Rethinking dairy: Fooditive unveils vegan casein derived from precision fermentation
10 Jan 2022 --- Dutch plant-based ingredients manufacturer Fooditive has unveiled its new vegan casein in an animal-free alternative milk made from peas using fermentation. The ingredient is the first vegan casein made available for applications in the food industry.
Several food developers and food companies have subscribed to test the component in their products, reports Fooditive.
“Our next steps will be further studies and the application for both European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take our vegan casein to the next step,” Moayad Abushokhedim, founder and CEO of Fooditive tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The company’s goal is to deliver on-demand milk in the coming years and eradicate the downsides of factory farming, lactose, hormones and antibiotics.
“Making healthy and affordable food for everyone means that we simply need to target every aspect of our diet, and animal-free products should be a part of it,” says Abushokhedim.
GMO-based milk reimagined
With a background in food science and expertise in fermentation, Fooditive developed its process for the vegan casein using affordable plant-based ingredients, such as peas.
Fooditive focuses on four types of casein; β-casein, κ-casein, α-S1-casein and α-S2-casein to infuse cheese-like flavor and the same stretchiness and mouthfeel.
“We are planning to raise our funding in 2023 to build our own production facilities in the Netherlands,” explains Abushokhedim.
The process is initiated by encoding casein protein DNA sequences on to microorganisms with yeast cell plasmid that can transfer genetic information from a genetic sequence to other parts of the cell.
The engineered yeast, with protein-producing DNA, converts into a new organism. With the use of precision fermentation the yeast is applied in bioreactor tanks and fed nutrients, and the proteins are purified.
“We understand that the production of food-grade genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is subject to constant debate due to the combination of negative consumer perceptions and the distrust of conglomerates,” says Niki Karatza, product manager of Fooditive.
“We aim to change that by showing the food industry and the end consumers an innovative approach to creating sustainable products.”
The vegan casein is suitable for dairy milk formulations such as yogurt, crèmes and cheeses that demonstrate melting characteristics. Casein is one of the main proteins in milk that give it its texture, taste and functionality.
New Europe-wide consumer research from Innova Market Insights highlights a widespread desire among consumers to sample more plant-based alternatives across a range of products.
Among flexitarians, trust in the safety of plant-based products is high, but concerns remain over cost and limited choice.
“Delivering ingredients that have been produced sustainably is the main key to a long-lasting future that can support the growing human population,” adds Abushokhedim.
By copying the essential protein component of milk, casein, any cheese can be recreated to be plant-based in the future, according to Those Vegan Cowboys, a Belgium-based company founded by the former owners of The Vegetarian Butcher. Based on the rising demand for vegan cheese alternatives, the start-up is tapping into microbial fermentation methods for producing caseins in cost-competitive plant-based dairy production.
In collaboration with Norco, Eden Brew also cultivates animal-free dairy using precision fermentation for brewing milk.
Last July, Nobell Foods – a US-based company, cultivating dairy compounds from plants – netted US$75 million in series B funding to further ventures in the production of essential dairy proteins, including casein, from soybeans.
By Inga de Jong
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