Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Opalia Receives Investment from Dairy Supplier Hoogwegt Group for “Cow-Free” Cell-Based Milk

Opalia, previously BetterMilk, reportedly the only company developing cell-based milk in Canada, has secured CAD$2 million to accelerate the development of its first milk product and establish a commercial strategy.

The financial round was led by the Netherlands-based Hoogwegt Group, the world’s largest independent supplier of dairy products and ingredients, operating since 1965 and with a presence in over 130 countries.

Other investors including Ahimsa Foundation, Box One Ventures, Cycle Momentum, Kale United, and the Québec government’s Impulsion PME program, also backed the cell-based milk startup. Opalia has received additional funding from Natural Products Canada through its Proof of Concept Program.

Jennifer Côté, Opalia’s CEO, shared: “With Hoogwegt leading our round, we’ve not only gained essential customer validation but also tapped into their extensive network and global market expertise, setting the stage for Opalia’s success.”

Opalia's Animal-Free Milk
© Opalia

Opalia’s cow-free milk

Opalia, a portfolio company of the investment platform CULT Food Science, has developed a technology to make milk and milk ingredients with mammary cells, replacing cows in the production of dairy products. 

The startup’s milk is made by placing enhanced mammary epithelial cells in bioreactors, where they grow and lactate, producing milk’s components such as whey, casein, and fats.

We are convinced that Opalia’s cow-free milk represents a key component of the future sustainable dairy

With this new method of production, Opalia aims to provide ethical and more sustainable dairy products without compromising the taste, functionality, or nutritional benefits of milk.

In addition, cultivated technologies are said to emit less GHG emissions, use less water and land than livestock, and eliminate the animal welfare concerns that surround the dairy industry.

Roland Wientjes, Global Technology Director of Hoogwegt Group, commented: “With our investment in Opalia we underline the imperative to explore sustainable alternatives. We are convinced that Opalia’s cow-free milk represents a key component of the future sustainable dairy supply chain and eagerly anticipate the launch of Opalia’s inaugural product.” 

Opalia has secured CAD$2 million to accelerate the development of its first cell-based milk product
© Opalia

A supplier of milk ingredients

Since its founding in 2023, Opalia has achieved several milestones. First, the company successfully produced milk from a mammary duct, marking a proof of concept for its cell-based milk technology. Later, in 2022, the startup managed to replace the fetal bovine serum used for cell growth with a non-animal-derived cell culture medium, more affordable and less prone to contamination risks. 

Established as a B2B supplier, the company seeks partners to co-develop products and commercialize cell-based milk and ingredients. Opalia has been included in the 2023 FoodTech 500 list by Forward Fooding.

Other companies developing cell-based milk include the German startup Senara and the Australian biotech All G Foods. Meanwhile, the French startup Nūmi pioneers the production of cell-cultured breast milk.

“We are thrilled to announce this strategic funding which will greatly accelerate the development and launch of our inaugural product,” Côté told Cultivated X.

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