Whereas plant-based dairy merchandise proceed to enhance, plant-based cheese presents specific formulation challenges, partly as a result of it’s onerous to copy the useful qualities of casein, the protein in cow’s milk accountable for the ‘stretchy’ high quality of cheese equivalent to Mozzarella, claims New Culture co-founder Matt Gibson.
Whereas some client merchandise that includes animal-free whey protein are already on the market, casein is harder to provide at scale by way of microbial fermentation, claimed Gibson, a brand new Zealander who moved to California to construct New Tradition (strapline: ‘Cow cheese, with out the cow’).
“Casein proteins are very troublesome to make utilizing precision fermentation, however we now have made quite a few breakthroughs during the last 18 months to provide substantial quantities of animal-free casein protein. This means to make important portions of casein protein has enabled us to be the one firm 100% targeted on Mozzarella, as Mozzarella is so reliant on casein.”
‘We now have made quite a few breakthroughs during the last 18 months to provide substantial quantities of animal-free casein protein’
Gibson – who has a level in genetics and microbiology – is utilizing artificial biology strategies to insert DNA sequences into microbes that successfully ‘program’ or ‘instruct’ them to specific his goal proteins (alpha caseins, kappa caseins and beta caseins) after feeding on a sugary substrate.
These could be shaped into casein micelles, or clusters of casein proteins, which when produced by cows, fold up right into a spherical ‘micelle’ construction in order that the casein proteins can stay suspended indefinitely within the milk water, stated Gibson.
“We’re making a spread of casein proteins and have utterly mastered the artwork of reconstituting casein micelles with any and all sorts of animal-free casein.
“Casein micelles give milk its colour, performance, vitamins, and skill for milk to undergo the cheesemaking course of and type any cheese of alternative together with Mozzarella, in contrast to whey, which makes solely restricted cheeses equivalent to ricotta and cream cheese. We will make scrumptious cheese with and with out caseins in a micellar type.”
‘We add the identical salts which might be naturally present in cow’s milk and let nature do its factor’
So what else is in New Tradition’s Mozzarella apart from animal-free casein? “We now have a really clear label, apart from animal-free casein we now have plant-based fat, a small quantity of plant-based sugar, some salts, nutritional vitamins, and minerals,” stated Gibson.
As for calcium and different minerals and nutritional vitamins present in dairy cheese, he stated, “We use calcium and different salts as a type of catalyst to induce micelle formation by permitting the casein proteins to start packing these salts and forming casein micelles.
“We add the identical salts which might be naturally present in cow’s milk and let nature do its factor,” added Gibson, who teamed up with an artificial biologist (co-founder Inja Radman, PhD), a meals scientist, a protein scientist and a microbiologist to develop the expertise.
‘Our focus is Mozzarella cheese and we might be going into food-service first’
So what’s the go-to-market technique?
Foodservice first, starting with pizza, stated Gibson: “Our focus is Mozzarella cheese and we might be going into food-service first the place the vast majority of Mozzarella is consumed. We can have a consumer-facing model (suppose Unattainable Meals) with co-branding on the merchandise which might be offered with New Tradition cheese.
“We now have simply kicked off our Collection A and with that funding we are going to get New Tradition prepared for industrial launch, which entails scaling our course of and the staff, and going by regulatory [GRAS determination], forward of a late 2023 launch into choose pizzeria accomplice eating places within the Bay Space.”
Courageous new animal-free world: What do you name animal merchandise made with out animals?
As for branding/terminology – an issue that is generating some debate in the industry as a brand new wave of merchandise that includes animal proteins made with out animals hits the market – “extra considering is required on terminology,” stated Gibson.
‘Animal-free’ is a “time period that I believe is nice sufficient for now, however can nonetheless be confused with totally plant-based approaches, so extra considering is required on terminology,” he argued.
Requested whether or not the usage of genetic engineering might deter some shoppers, he noticed that genetically engineered microbes are already broadly utilized in cheese making to provide rennet, though most shoppers are unaware of this.
Whereas rennet was constituted of the stomachs of new child cows, he stated, at this time it’s made with an enzyme (chymosin) that’s been produced by way of fermentation utilizing a genetically engineered bacterium.
And whereas the proteins Gibson is making are produced by a genetically engineered microbe, that microbe shouldn’t be current within the casein proteins themselves, that are the identical as these produced by cows, and wouldn’t set off a ‘bioengineered’ meals label below new US GMO labeling laws.
*Another gamers within the animal-free dairy area embody Perfect Day (California), Change Foods (California), Remilk (Israel), Legendairy Foods (Germany), and Those Vegan Cowboys (Belgium).