Real cheese without cows

dairy free cheese
Photo: NewMoo

Food-tech start-up NewMoo, Ltd. is using plant molecular farming (PMF) to produce casein proteins for making cheese.

Caseins comprise about 80% of the proteins in dairy milk. The resulting product allows cheesemakers to deliver the same cheese experience as traditional dairy cheese via a cost-effective, animal-free, and sustainable pathway.

Until now, cheese alternatives have struggled to offer consumers the real cheese experience, nutrition, and price. Cheese analogs do not contain the key dairy proteins, caseins necessary to precisely recreate the sensory properties of dairy cheese.

Dairy without the cow

The scientists at NewMoo discovered a way to express casein proteins in plant seeds that can grow abundantly through traditional field agriculture. After three years of stealth, NewMoo has unveiled proteins that match dairy proteins in nutrition, composition, and function.

The start-up’s technology and concept are built on research and intellectual property derived at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel. The innovation allows for the expression of two or more caseins within a single plant via a novel approach to plant molecular farming. The seeds are then sown in outdoor fields. After harvesting the plants, the NewMoo casein liquid base is produced through a process that yields a hormone-free liquid casein free of lactose and cholesterol that replicates the functionality of dairy cheese.

Caseins are considered the “holy grail” of milk structure by the dairy industry. By developing animal-free caseins through plants instead of cows, it is possible to make almost any dairy product, starting with cheese.

“Our animal-free liquid casein mimics all the functional traits of real milk protein for crafting cheese the traditional way,” said Daphna Miller, NewMoo co-founder and CEO.

“This means it can seamlessly replace dairy milk in any dairy cheese manufacturing facility without the need for any special equipment or reconfiguration of existing equipment. NewMoo’s caseins can form the basis for a cheese that has the exact melting and stretching behavior as animal dairy cheese, and delivers the typical aroma, flavour, and texture that cheese eaters crave. Our animal-free proteins are literally identical to animal-derived caseins.”

NewMoo allows for an efficient, cost-effective process that sets the cow free from the industrial milk production process and sequesters carbon during natural cultivation. The company said this makes for a more sustainable source of milk proteins.

NewMoo benefits

“We intimately understand the needs of food companies,” Miller said.

“Unlike protein powders, the NewMoo liquid casein is production-ready, helping streamline production and go-to-market. As opposed to current precision fermentation practices, our approach doesn’t require expensive bioreactor machinery to grow our proteins. The plant seeds themselves act as bioreactors. This gives us the flexibility to produce these complex proteins in abundance and at exceptional cost parity.”

NewMoo said its manufacturing process is easily scalable for simple implementation.

“This method of making previously animal-based foods from non-animal sources is a win-win situation,” Miller added.

“It benefits the consumers, the dairy producers, farmers, the health- and animal welfare-conscious flexitarians, and the global climate. We believe that this technology is the most suitable for bringing the future of sustainable animal free dairy products.”

“Our goal is to assist dairy cheese manufacturers broaden their market scope to include the burgeoning flexitarian demographic,” said co-founder Hod Yanover, vice president of food development for NewMoo.

“We empower cheesemakers to create delectable and nutritious guilt-free products with ease and at no added costs.”

According to data from Euromonitor, 42% of consumers worldwide identify themselves as flexitarian. The global cheese market has been valued at $135bn and is projected to reach $220bn by 2028. The alternative dairy movement is still lagging, largely due sensory and nutritional setbacks.

Jim Cornall is editor of Future Food Today and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.