Revolutionizing the Lactoferrin Market: Bridging the Gap with Precision Fermentation


Precision Fermentation


Despite lactoferrin benefits spanning gut health, immune function, and sports nutrition, it remains largely unknown to the world.

At TurtleTree, our mission is to change that by making this underrated bioactive protein accessible worldwide. We’re incorporating it into a range of new adult nutrition products, from plant-based milks to meal replacement drinks and even gummy vitamins.

As we prepare to introduce our fermentation-derived lactoferrin, LF+, to the market in the coming months, it’s essential to understand where the current lactoferrin market stands and how LF+ will fit into this landscape.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the current state of lactoferrin, examining the regions and product categories where lactoferrin is most prevalent.

To do so, we’ve taken a dataset of products introduced between January 2021 and August 2023 that contain lactoferrin. Let’s begin by exploring lactoferrin’s global presence.

China stands out as the dominant force in the lactoferrin market, with the majority of lactoferrin-containing products and production worldwide. Much of this can be attributed to China’s extensive use of lactoferrin in infant formula.

Interestingly, China’s one-child policy played a pivotal role in elevating infant formula to premium status, driving the addition of lactoferrin to mimic the benefits of breast milk.

Furthermore, China’s strict infant formula regulations, stemming from the 2008 crisis involving contaminated milk supplies, specify required levels of lactoferrin. Other Asian countries have also recognized the benefits of lactoferrin for both infants and adults. Notably, the United States lags behind, accounting for only 10% of global lactoferrin production and 5% of products containing lactoferrin.

At TurtleTree, we aim to change this by introducing LF+ to the U.S. market, making fermentation-derived lactoferrin readily available for various adult nutrition applications.

TurtleTree’s LF+ debut aligns perfectly with the anticipated surge in the global lactoferrin market size. According to a study, lactoferrin sales are projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12.6% between 2021 and 2028, reaching an impressive USD $1.46 billion by 2028.

Given lactoferrin’s diverse health benefits, it was only a matter of time before this ingredient made its mark on the food and nutrition industries.

The lion’s share of global lactoferrin production is earmarked for inclusion in infant formula to replicate some of the health benefits of breast milk. The graph illustrates the overwhelming dominance of infant formula in the lactoferrin market, accounting for nearly 62% of all products.

Other data estimates suggest that infant nutrition makes up nearly 80% of the lactoferrin market by tonnage. This leaves only a small fraction for adult consumption, primarily in the form of supplements and vitamins. These lactoferrin supplement products often highlight their immune system support and prebiotic function.

The next most common application of lactoferrin in the adult segment is sports nutrition, encompassing nutritional and meal replacement drinks, mostly in the form of protein powders, although some innovative products offer ready-to-eat protein shakes. The remaining lactoferrin-containing products for adults fall into one of three categories, either food, dairy or drugs.

Notably, the most common food applications for lactoferrin are within the dairy category, with products like milk powders, yogurts and milk drinks being typical products within the dairy category.

Lactoferrin has various bioactive benefits, making it suitable for infants and seniors alike.

For infants, lactoferrin has proven benefits in the immune system and gut development. In the aging population, lactoferrin can similarly help with immunity and digestion, and also improve bone density, a common pain point for the elderly. Preclinical models suggest that lactoferrin may also help curb age-related memory and cognitive decline. Future clinical research will be needed to replicate these findings in humans.

One conspicuous absence we’ve noticed is the lack of lactoferrin in plant-based milks. At TurtleTree, we firmly believe that plant-based milks represent an ideal application for lactoferrin. Current estimates put the plant-based milk market at USD $35 billion with an expected 15% CAGR from 2021 to 2030, suggesting that plant-based milks are here to stay.

As we’ve previously discussed, while plant-based milks are commendable for their environmental benefits, they often fall short in terms of nutritional value compared to dairy milk. You shouldn’t have to compromise between planetary and personal health when making choices at the grocery store. Our precision fermentation technology enables us to bring the best of dairy to plant-based products and beyond.

To wrap up, the lactoferrin market has long been dominated by infant nutrition, with this demand leaving only a fraction of globally produced lactoferrin available for adult consumption. TurtleTree is poised to disrupt this market by introducing LF+ and bridging the gap between lactoferrin’s untapped potential and the diverse health and nutritional needs of adults across the planet.

With the global lactoferrin market on the brink of substantial growth, now is the perfect time to usher in a new era of lactoferrin innovation. Together, we can unlock the myriad benefits of this remarkable protein for all, revolutionizing the world of adult nutrition.