Precision fermentation-fueled startup Helaina to expand protein offerings beyond babies

Helena is the company behind the advanced infant formula with proteins identical to those found in breast milk. The New York City-based company was founded in 2019 by food scientist Laura Katz​, who wanted to advance infant nutrition by recreating the functional components of breast milk. Now Katz is ready to expand the use case of its technology to all ages.

Immunity for all

“When these proteins are consumed through breast milk and when they’re in our secretions and our tears and our sweat, they provide a first line of defense for our immune system and they know how to actually interact with and talk to the cells in our bodies.” body-and that is so powerful.

“It’s one of the reasons why we look at breast milk as being such a critical source of nutrition, because it has these proteins in it and as we’ve been building out the company and the technology to make these, we have done a lot of intentional and internal business development to understand how we can bring this technology to the masses.”​ Katz told FoodNavigator-USA.

Katz added that the idea has piqued the interest of quite a few companies to whom Helaina could sell its proteins in addition to making its own consumer products that would serve early life to end of life nutrition.

“It’s expanding the technology that we’ve built into so many different categories where we could be having a real impact on people’s immune health.”Katz said.

‘Options are endless’

Katz said that the company is interested in developing offerings that serve nutrition first.

“[Helaina is looking at] where nutrition is the core driver of why somebody would eat or a consumer would purchase that product. So anything within the world of meal replacements, beverages, powders, bars, supplements, things that people are looking towards to be a proactive way to take care of their health.”said Katz. “The options and the opportunities are endless.”


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