Phytolon raises $14.5m to expand fermentation-based food color platform, aims to be in market in 2023

Phytolon’s platform​​, based on licensed technology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, can produce a wide range of natural colors from yellow to purple, and is currently at “semi-industrial”production scale, said co-founder and CEO Dr. Halim Jubran, who is also collaborating with synthetic biology specialist Ginkgo Bioworks.

“With Ginkgo, we are developing the next generation of strains that will produce the next generation of the colors.”

‘We are expecting to be in the market in 2023’

The latest funding round “will enable us to get to the market” ​said Jubran, who noted that Phytolon has “already established partnerships with contract manufacturers to manufacture the colors,” ​and plans to work both with ingredient companies and establish direct relationships with CPG companies when it comes to sales.

“This round will enable us to expand our capabilities in terms of approaching the market and working with both types of companies,” ​added Jubran, who said the firm would be submitting a color additive petition to US regulators.

“We are expecting to be in the market in 2023 ​[pending regulatory approval]. Wehave collected all of the data and together with our consultants, we are in communication with the FDA, which has already approved other fermentation based ingredients using baker’s yeast,” he told FoodNavigator-USA.

Asked about labeling in the US market, this is still to be determined, he said, “it may be something like ‘fermented beet colors’​,” but as the colors themselves are not GMOs (rather they are produced by GM baker’s yeast, which is filtered out of the final product) they will not be subject to bioengineered food labeling laws, he said noting that several firms now use genetically modified microbes to produce colors, sweeteners, texturants such as xanthan gum, vitamins (B2, B12, ascorbic acid etc.), and enzymes.

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