Day 8 turns agricultural waste into protein

Day 8 founders Dana marom and Daniel Rejzner credit: Day 8
Day 8 founders Dana marom and Daniel Rejzner credit: Day 8

The Israeli company has developed an industrial process to extract alternative proteins from the banana leaf.

"For every kilogram of bananas, there is half a kilogram of leaves, and the farmers must cut them off all the time. This is organic waste that does not nourish the soil and does not contribute anything to the farmer," explains Day 8 cofounder and CEO Daniel Rejzner, which currently works on producing alternative proteins including from these leaves. "For us it's a treasure, and the profits that can be reaped are crazy. We estimate that the production potential of protein from bananas alone is worth about $7 billion."

Day 8, located in Strauss Group's The Kitchen food-tech incubator, received from it a pre-seed investment of NIS 2.5 million, and is currently set to embark on a pilot project. "This year has been a catastrophe for farmers because of the war, so anything that can increase profitability is of interest to them. Every agricultural body we talked to expressed interest."

The alternative protein market is worth an estimated at $18 billion annually and global demand for protein-rich food has been on the rise in recent years. Day 8 makes the protein from various fruits and vegetables but still has a way to go. "Our aims this year have been to develop the technology, register patents and achieve industrial production," says Rejzner. "Currently the company has more than 20 potential customers, food producers who are just waiting for the product. We have been able to extract protein from all kinds of crops, it works well, and when we complete all of this we will be ready for the next stage - a pilot project for industrial production. The goal is to launch a product on the market in two years."

If the pilot is successful and the company moves to the industrial production stage, its product could revolutionize the food market. "When the product is on the market, it will be sold to food manufacturers, who will incorporate it into their products. For example, today there are all the protein products that are very popular, such as yogurts and shakes, protein powders and protein bars. This is a hot field. The protein that is used today is a byproduct of the dairy industry, and we can replace it with what we extract from the leaves."

Another dramatic change that the protein is expected to bring about at food manufacturers is the reduction in the use of eggs. "Eggs are a headache in food factories," explains Rejzner. "There is a fear of salmonella, it needs to be refrigerated, and there are food safety issues. If there is a protein powder to replace eggs, the food industry will be happy. Our alternative is both vegan and non-allergenic."

Day 8 also aims to impact the meat and milk alternatives market - another fast growing market. "What is most successful in this market today is the drinks - soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc., but all these drinks are not suitable for whipping. Our protein foams very well, and it also has no taste."

"To do something with significance"

Rejzner (47) is completely immersed in the green venture and it is hard to believe that this world is completely new to him. Until recently, he was the founder and CEO of OurCart, a marketing platform for emerging consumer product brands. His life was comfortable and profitable, but something was missing. "I felt like I wasn't in the right place. I am very careful about the food I feed my children and always check the label. I realized that some of the 'healthier' brands we supported on OurCart weren't really more healthy. This led to my decision to leave the company."

After Rejzner left he didn't know what his next step was, but he knew he wanted to "do something with impact and significance." At this point, a close friend introduced him to Dr. Dorit Rozner, CTO at The Kitchen incubator, who told him that it was possible to produce a highly sought-after protein from leaves. "It was very suitable for what I was looking for, and it also sounded like money growing, literally."

How did you come up with the name Day 8?

"This is a reference to the seven days of creation. The world was created in seven days and we received a perfect, amazing, natural world. The eighth day was the day when the baton was passed onto us and now we have to look after it."

Producing an alternative protein from agricultural waste definitely falls into the definition of looking after the world. RuBisCo protein is the most sought after among plant proteins, and is found in green leaves of a variety of crops, including spinach, banana, corn and more. But so far its high production costs have prevented its commercial production.

The development of Day 8's technology was a critical step in changing this situation, and this is where Rejzner's partner and Day 8 cofounder, CTO Dana Marom, who has extensive experience in the international industry in the field of soy protein production, entered the picture. Together the two have reached the critical stage of industrial production, and now they only have to prove that the vision is realistic and that money really does grow on trees (or at least leaves).

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on June 9, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Day 8 founders Dana marom and Daniel Rejzner credit: Day 8
Day 8 founders Dana marom and Daniel Rejzner credit: Day 8
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