New Culture plans 2023 launch of Mozzarella – minus the cows


While plant-based dairy products continue to improve, plant-based cheese presents particular formulation challenges, in part because it’s hard to replicate the functional qualities of casein, the protein in cow’s milk responsible for the ‘stretchy’ quality of cheese such as Mozzarella, claims New Culture​ co-founder Matt Gibson.

While some consumer products featuring animal-free whey protein are already on the market​, casein is more difficult to produce at scale via microbial fermentation, claimed Gibson, a new Zealander who moved to California to build New Culture (strapline: ‘Cow cheese, without the cow’).

“Casein proteins are very difficult to make using precision fermentation, but we have made numerous breakthroughs over the last 18 months to produce substantial amounts of animal-free casein protein. This ability to make significant quantities of casein protein has enabled us to be the only company 100% focused on Mozzarella, as Mozzarella is so reliant on casein.” 

‘We have made numerous breakthroughs over the last 18 months to produce substantial amounts of animal-free casein protein

Gibson – who has a degree in genetics and microbiology – is using synthetic biology techniques to insert DNA sequences into microbes that effectively ‘program’ or ‘instruct’ them to express his target proteins (alpha caseins, kappa caseins and beta caseins) after feeding on a sugary substrate.

These can be formed into casein micelles, or clusters of casein proteins, which when produced by cows, fold up into a spherical ‘micelle’ structure so that the casein proteins can remain suspended indefinitely in the milk water, said Gibson.



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