Wisconsin company semi-finalist in 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge
Setting out to create a product that's basically the equivalent to human breast milk without the corn syrup of infant formula, Nikos Linardakis, M.D. developed Bêne Baby goat’s milk formula.
“Bêne Baby goat’s milk formula will provide a significant new market for our dairy farmers,” Nikos Linardakis, M.D., The Bêne Baby Company President said in a press release. “Growth and evolution in agriculture are essential to industry strength, and we are honored to stand among companies charting innovative paths.”
The Bêne Baby Company was named a semi-finalist in the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, which recognizes entrepreneurs developing innovative farming and agricultural products with a regional emphasis. The Bêne Baby Company is based in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, and will introduce the first-of-its-kind infant formula made with goat’s milk this summer.
The funds received from this $10,000 award will help launch the new product and assist the company in developing relationships with its goat milk farmers.
“These hardworking entrepreneurs demonstrated their commitment to take on some of the biggest challenges in agriculture. Their innovation will help American farmers continue to grow healthy, affordable products for consumers,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “It’s a pleasure to recognize and award these outstanding businesses to help them deliver solutions that will drive U.S. agriculture forward.”
The Bêne Baby Company was co-founded by Linardakis and James Esselman, DDS, to create the first human breast milk alternative with goat’s milk made in America, for infants from birth until 12 months of age. They created an easy-to-digest, patent-pending goat milk infant formula which meets all FDA nutritional requirements. It is hypoallergenic and gentle to tummies, and contains no soy, gluten nor corn syrup.
Linardakis saw "four big pressing problems" with infant formula. Looking at pediatrician, hospital recommended formula, Linardakis found corn syrup as the number one sugar source. Naturally occurring sugars like lactose breakdown differently, don't cause behavioral addiction issues and don't go immediately into the bloodstream, Linardakis explained in a phone interview.
"We know now that there is a correlation between taking too much sugar and behavioral problems or addictions, but also Wisconsin is very high in its obesity rate and part of the problem is from childhood obesity which really is in the category under 5 years old, 2 to 5 years old, but in reality it's happening at that time period," Linardakis said.
The second problem Linardakis found was the dominance of synthetic ingredients in infant formulas. Thirdly, "we were seeing a lot of allergies," said Linardakis. "They're poorly digested, because of the different molecular sizes of proteins and the fats, they limit the body and then they have an immune response."
The fourth issue with infant formula that Linardakis saw was the impact on health and behavior, obesity and heart disease in children, "it's a big concern."
So Linardakis set out to make a better baby formula to find a solution for all those concerns. He and Esselman looked at different milks including camel and buffalo milk. Globally goat milk has been used for ages. As a Greek-American, Linardakis was raised on goat milk. Goat milk has smaller proteins, the fats are structurally different with short and medium chain triglycerides.
"Because of that structure, you're built with a certain amount of enzymes as a child, so you have enough enzymes for lactose sugar, you have enough enzymes for protein, enough for fat," Linardakis said. "The short proteins and fats of goat milk are more equivalent to human milk and thus, easier to digest."
Bêne™ Baby Formula has the FDA required nutrients and utilizes as much goat milk from Wisconsin as possible. It's powdered at a company in Wisconsin and canned at a pharmaceutical company out of state, but Linardakis hopes to find an FDA pharmaceutical facility in Wisconsin in the future.
“Our farm-fresh infant formula is made one batch at a time and helps protect and expand our dairy industry by introducing goat milk production for a new product category,” Linardakis said in the press release.
Goat milk from LaClare Family Creamery in Fond du Lac County will be used, but Linardakis said they need every gallon of goat milk they can get and hopes this might provide an opportunity for some farmers to convert from cows to goats where they could get a higher price price point per hundredweight and possibly provide more security in the dairy industry. Linardakis sees the opportunity of providing goat milk for Bêne™ Baby Formula as a viable solution for some farmers. The formula, which will launch this summer already has orders for it, according to Linardakis.
"We know that our sales are going to be up there and our commitment is to help the farmers," said Linardakis. "We want to help the farmers and we want to help the consumers, so both sides are going to get benefits."
Interested farmers and consumers can find more information at www.BeneBabyCompany.com or call Linardakis at 715-213-8855.