A German company is working to scale up its dairy-free fermentation process for making vegan cheese that tastes and acts like the real thing
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Spotted: According to Veganz Group, plant-based cheese is the fastest-growing category of vegan foods. Gone are the days of cardboard-textured mush. Today’s vegan cheeses are fermented and matured, just like milk-based cheese. One such pioneer is the Berlin-based company, Formo. The company has recently completed a Series A funding round that raised €43 million.
Formo’s goal is to replicate the taste and texture of dairy cheeses. They have developed a fermentation process that involves the use of microbes to create dairy proteins. This mirrors the same process of fermentation of milk-based cheeses, but without the milk. Because the finished product does not contain lactose, it is appealing not only to vegans but also to those who have lactose intolerance, a problem especially common in Asia.
The company plans to use the funding to scale up production and build a new pilot plant, also adding European dairy specialties such as mozzarella and ricotta to its portfolio of cheese. Formo claims that its fermentation technology is more easily scalable than dairy cheese production, due to the much higher efficiency of the microorganisms used.
Raffael Wohlgensinger, co-founder and chief executive officer of Formo described the company’s plans for cheese domination, saying, “We’re talking about a product that needs to go mass market or needs to be produced in big volume so we’re now working on a scale-up. We want to open up the focus and really make sure we are able to cover pretty much any cheese type you can imagine.”
The growing popularity of vegan foods has attracted a number of major players to the vegan cheese market, such as the US-Australian startup, Change Foods, and food giant General Mills which is developing its own brand of vegan cheeses, called Renegade Creamery. Recent innovations in vegan food that we have seen include a culinary programme that teaches chefs plant-based cooking techniques and vegan shrimp made from seaweed.
Written By: Lisa Magloff