New Culture aims to launch animal-free mozzarella by 2023

21 Jun 2021

San Francisco startup New Culture recently announced that it will begin providing its animal-free mozzarella to foodservice pizzerias by 2023. Company founder Matt Gibson told Food Navigator that this launch date is made possible by the “numerous breakthroughs” made over the last several months that allow New Culture to produce industrial quantities of animal-free casein protein.

According to Gibson, creating casein is not as straightforward as crafting animal-free whey through fermentation. Casein gives milk products their color, functionality and nutrients, all of which components are critical when crafting a stretchy, melty mozzarella. At New Culture, scientists have discovered a method to reconstruct casein proteins through genetically sequencing microbial DNA and coding it to express the target protein.

New Culture aims to launch animal-free mozzarella by 2023
Image via Cristiano Pinto on Unsplash

Aside from the animal-free casein protein, New Culture’s mozzarella will contain plant-based fats, plant-based sugar, salts, vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are combined with enzymes, and then the cheese is formed much in the same way as traditional mozzarella. The result is a mozzarella that the company says has the same sensorial qualities, including stretch and bite, as animal mozzarella.

To launch its new mozzarella product, New Culture will partner with foodservice establishments such as pizzerias in Silicon Valley where the restaurants will make food and co-brand the creations with the New Culture logo in order to increase brand recognition. Both Oatly and Impossible Foods employed a similar approach to successfully create buzz around their brands.

However, successfully getting this brand out of the laboratory and into people’s mouths will take financial wherewithal. As such, the startup is currently in the midst of raising Series A funding. Funds raised through this process will be directly used to scale New Culture’s processes and team to launch at scale.

Additionally, the team is working on achieving GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) regulatory status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ahead of its launch. GRAS status gives companies approval to use new substances as a food additive; as New Culture’s casein is a novel ingredient, having GRAS status will permit widespread use in commercial food production.

If New Culture successfully launches its animal-free mozzarella, the plant-based dairy market may find that its ongoing challenges with cheese formulation are somewhat alleviated. Much in the same way that animal-free whey protein changed the playing field for products such as ice cream when Perfect Day began formulating animal-free equivalents, New Culture’s casein has the ability to disrupt the cheese.

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