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Lab-grown food startup wants to make dairy mozzarella, no animals required

You’ve probably heard of lab-grown meat companies like Memphis Meats, which aim to create meat without the need to kill animals to produce it. But how about cow cheese produced without the cow? That’s the healthy, ethical, and, hopefully, delicious dream a new startup called New Culture is working to make a reality. Originally founded in New Zealand, the company is currently being incubated at IndieBio, the world’s largest biotech accelerator program, which previously supported Memphis Meats, Finless Foods, and others.

“We want to make amazing tasting vegan cheese that is better in taste, structure, and function when compared with dairy cheese — as well as being healthier, far more sustainable and able to be enjoyed by everyone,” Matt Gibson, CEO and co-founder of New Culture, told Digital Trends. “However, we don’t think this can be done with just plant-based ingredients. Dairy proteins are responsible for most of what we love about dairy cheese and are so unique themselves that they cannot just be replicated in the plant-based world. This is why we are taking these essential dairy proteins known as casein proteins, and sustainably producing them ourselves without the cow. Similar to what the Impossible Burger does with the heme protein, we are making casein proteins with the help of microbes.”

Mixing these proteins with plant-based lipids and sugar is what produces the cheese. In addition to tasting as good as regular dairy cheese, Gibson says that his startup’s produce will be cholesterol and lactose-free. The company’s first cheese will be fresh mozzarella, although others will hopefully follow in the future.

“We are still very early in development,” Gibson continued. “After we close our seed round later this year we will build a pilot process to begin making our cheese. Due to the nature of the technology we are working with, it will take longer to get to market than a fully plant-based food product. We hope to have a product for consumers to buy within 18 months.”

In the meantime, salivating potential customers can sign up on New Culture’s website to register their interest in a taste when it becomes available.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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