Startup New Culture raises $ 25 million to “make cow cheese without a cow”
San Francisco-based startup New Culture has just raised $ 25 million in a Series A funding round to bring its revolutionary animal-free cheese to market. The startup uses microbial fermentation to produce animal-free caseins – the proteins that give animal cheese its distinctive properties – which are then made into vegan dairy products that mimic the real thing without the need to exploit cows.
Founded by Matt Gibson (an expert in genetics and microbiology) and Inja Radman (a synthetic biologist), New Culture’s mission is to revolutionize the vegan cheese industry by creating a cheese with the same stretching, melting and blistering properties as its animal one Pendant is made. To date, New Culture has hosted tasting events for industry experts in pizzerias to demonstrate the milk-identical nature of its animal-free mozzarella cheese.
“What New Culture has achieved in a short period of time through multiple pizza tastings strengthens its market leadership position in the development of cruelty-free casein,” Steve Sanger, general partner at Evolv Ventures (one of the brand’s investors) and member of the New Culture Board, said in a statement . “Your focus on using this casein to make cruelty-free cheese will allow consumers to enjoy everything they love about cheese (taste, melting, stretching, browning) without compromising, while at the same time helping to make the world more sustainable. “
The startup will use the $ 25 million in new funds to transition to a commercial venture, with the goal of launching in select pizzerias in 2022.
Making real (vegan) cheese without the cow
To make animal-free casein, New Culture inserts DNA sequences into microbes that instruct them to express the target proteins (alpha casein, kappa casein, and beta casein) after feeding them with a sugar solution. These are formed into casein micelles or clusters of casein proteins, just like animal casein. New Culture houses its microorganisms in fermentation tanks, feeds them sugar, and then collects the casein they produce to make cheese.
During the fermentation process, the company was able to harness the power of microorganisms to turn one food source into another, such as milk into cheese, including its innovative mozzarella. While plant-based cheese usually has a melting point that is maximum in home ovens, New Culture’s animal-free mozzarella cheese continues to brown and melt in professional pizza ovens.
“We were impressed by the progress that the New Culture team has made in applying innovative science-based approaches to the production of high-quality animal-free cheese,” said Alice Newcombe-Ellis, Founder and General Partner of Ahren Innovation Capital, Co-Leader said in a statement. “Ahren looks forward to supporting New Culture in bringing its products to market in order to contribute to a greener future.”
New Culture is part of a growing number of startups using microbial fermentation to create cruelty-free alternatives to dairy products. The biggest player in this space is Perfect Day, which has raised more than $ 750 million in funding to date and uses a similar process to make its animal-free whey.
While Perfect Day focuses on delivering its innovative protein to other companies so they can make vegan products like ice cream and baked goods, the company also operates a consumer products division, The Urgent Company, which launched the ice cream and desserts brand under Brave Robot and Modern Kitchen (which first launched a three-flavor cream cheese line last month).
This month, food giant General Mills launched Bold Cultr, its first line of vegan cheeses. General Mills used Perfect Day’s cruelty-free whey to develop its vegan cheese, which will initially be available in a simple cream cheese format with two additional flavors as well as cheese slices and schnitzel under development.
For more information on cruelty-free dairy products, visit:
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