Growing cheese in plants? That’s what startup Nobell Foods are doing; well they’re growing bovine casein in plants, soybeans to be exact. They came out of stealth mode today after raising a USD75m Series B round, bring their total funding to USD100m to date.
This is an example of the Plant Molecular Farming I’ve written about previously. As single use recyclable bioreactors plants excel as cheap protein factories. By inserting the gene for casein into a plant they can grow the casein within the plant and then extract it for use. Presumably the soy protein and other sidestreams will be able to be used as well, improving the economics of the casein production.
Casein is the protein that makes cheese stretch and melt so making non-animal derived cheeses that behave like conventional cheese becomes much easier. They’re going after the mozzarella and fast food cheese markets first as they claim that “Those two categories make up 60% of the entire cheese market in the U.S. by volume”. Nobell plan to have commercial products on the market in 2023.
Another snip at the beleaguered dairy industry as more and more value is stripped from their products.
Yes, food is technology and any company that doesn’t understand this has a dim future indeed.