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Startup Innovation Challenge

Natural fat droplets as ideal milk fat equivalent [On-demand interview]

Video-Natural fat droplets as ideal milk fat equivalent [On-demand interview]

Time-Travelling Milkman, one of the finalists in the 2021 Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge, is extracting natural fat droplets from seeds to create creamier, healthier and more sustainable plant-based products.

Time-Travelling Milkman, a spin-off from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, was created as an attempt to bridge science with sustainability and health. TTM’s unsaturated fat ingredients are made through a process that extracts natural fat droplets from seeds, such as sunflower seeds, for sustainable production of fat that is texturally similar to milk cream, adding a very nice mouthfeel. We caught up with co-founder, Dimitris Karefyllakis, after their pitch in the Most Innovative Plant-based or Alternative Ingredient category. Below are some of the highlights from the interview conducted on the show floor at Fi Europe 2021 in December:

Q: Tell us a little about your company, Time-Travelling Milkman?

"... we came up with this company in order to focus on the mouthfeel of plant-based products, where we thought we can play a significant role. ... we started targeting the fat ingredient, and this is what we are trying to bring to the market: a fat ingredient that makes creamy and healthy plant-based products."

Q: What is this fat ingredient and what makes it so innovative and different for the food industry?

"If you think about sunflower oil, it doesn't strike you as a processed ingredient. Some use it as raw material. But inside the seeds that contain a lot of oil, nature already provides some spherical droplets with a very nice membrane of proteins and phospholipids, that if you know how to take them out and use them, they are ready to use - pre-existing emulgent droplets, you don’t need to homogenise or stabilise, we use it as such so it blends with other ingredients whether they are proteins, polysaccharides, and you create vegan yogurts, creamy cheeses with a lot of fat (30 - 40%) unsaturated, EU-sourced. So I suppose to the coconut or palm ingredients that they use currently, it is healthier, more sustainable, and of course creamier at the end, it gives also a very nice mouthfeel."

Q: What does it mean for you to be part of this Startup Innovation Challenge, to have been selected?

"Very happy that we reached the finals. For us it was very good visibility in the space. We're very happy to be here as we met relevant competitors but also potential customers and other companies. And we also get the best feeling of what is coming in the next years."



Dimitris Karefyllakis, CEO & Co-Founder, Time-travelling Milkman

Dimitris Karefyllakis obtained his doctorate from Wageningen University during which he realized that the methods applied for the processing of foods are often intensive, include many chemicals, and result in waste streams full of valuable ingredients. By using only water and less energy, natural ingredients can be produced with great potential for new recipes. While most of the focus in the plant-based world is put on proteins, Dimitris decided to focus on fat ingredients and strive for creaminess. And Time-travelling Milkman was born.