Silicon Valley-based food startup New Culture recently developed a vegan mozzarella that mimics all of the properties of its dairy-based counterpart but without the cow. New Culture makes the base for its mozzarella by inserting a DNA sequence into microbes that instructs the fermentation process and creates vegan casein micelle (a particle element of casein) that is identical to that derived from cow’s milk but without the need to use the animal in any way for milk production. “At the end of the fermentation process we have curd, and that goes through the same cheese-making process as traditional dairy curd, so we can then leverage a lot of the existing infrastructure already used in cheese-making,” New Culture Founder Matt Gibson told Foodnaviator USA. “Using strain engineering and optimization, we can make our process very efficient. By contrast, the dairy industry is very inefficient. We don’t need as much land, water, we don’t emit greenhouse gases, and we don’t need to raise animals.” Last week, New Culture completed its participation in biotechnology incubator IndieBio and presented its concept during Demo Day—a final event when startups pitch their companies to a room of 400 to 500 investors. New Culture told investors that it aims to raise $2.8 million (half of which was already committed before Demo Day) and treated them to samples of its vegan mozzarella—which stretches and melts exactly like its animal counterpart. New Culture plans to first debut its mozzarella at restaurants, then fast-food chains, and, eventually, supermarkets. Other companies in the space include Silicon Valley neighbor Perfect Day, which has developed a vegan whey protein using similar technology that it plans to license to other businesses to produce next-level vegan dairy products.
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