Animal-free cheese created by molecular farming start-up NewMoo

The food-tech start-up NewMoo has developed a molecular farming method to produce casein proteins for making cheese, resulting in a product which allows cheese-makers to deliver the same experience as with a traditional dairy cheese.

Caseins compromise about 80% of the proteins in dairy milk and form the basis for cheese characteristics such as texture. Cheese alternatives have struggled to offer consumers the real cheese experience, as they do not contain the key dairy proteins, caseins, necessary to precisely recreate the sensory properties of dairy cheese.

Over three years of research, the NewMoo scientists discovered a way to express casein protein in plant seeds, using plants that grow abundantly through traditional field agriculture. The newly unveiled proteins match dairy proteins in nutrition, composition and function whilst allowing for an alternative that is cost-effective, animal-free and sustainable.

The start-up’s technology and concept are built on exclusive 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 unique development process that yields a hormone-free liquid casein naturally free of lactose and cholesterol and 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,” explains 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, flavor, and texture that cheese eaters crave. Our animal-free proteins are literally identical to animal-derived caseins.”

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

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