Plant-Based Casein Could Be a Gamechanger for Vegan Cheese

Creating vegan cheeses that mimic dairy.


Innovation, Vegan
Some of the cheeses made with the plant-based casein.

(Courtesy Climax Foods)

Vegan cheeses have been around for a long time but the products have never been able to mimic real dairy cheese. Something has always been missing. Now, a company has come up with a way to replicate cheese in an approach that has never been done before. The new product can actually melt!  

Using data science and artificial intelligence (AI) Climax Foods, a Berkeley, California food tech startup created the first plant-based protein that replicates the texture, taste and functionality of the major protein in animal milk, according to a press release from the company. This is a major breakthrough for vegan dairy products, especially cheese since it is casein that helps give cheese its stretchability and melting properties.

“Our goal is not just to give vegans better options — we are offering a better way to everyone, especially hardcore cheese lovers,” Oliver Zahn, the CEO and founder of climax, said in the press release.

Benefits of plant-based casein
Climax’s plant-based alternative to animal protein is free of hormones, antibiotics, or major allergens, and can be produced in a sustainable way. “As foodies and scientists, we have a profound appreciation for the complex flavors and textures of dairy products, but also recognize their vast inefficiencies — such as requiring 700 gallons of water to make one pound of cheese,” said Zahn.

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Besides reducing the amount of water used, the casein alternative will also reduce carbon emissions and the amount of land used in the production of its dairy alternatives, reported Eco Watch. An additional bonus, according to the startup, is that the cheese will also have better nutritional values than any of the vegan cheeses already available.

How was it developed?
Climax foods combined available data and AI to come up with the new protein. The process – dubbed precision formulation –  dramatically speeded up the discovery of optimal ingredients and processes, according to the press release. This eliminated years of trial and error.
“The difference [in the outcome] comes from our depth of knowledge of the rich biodiversity of the plant kingdom down to a cellular level. Plants can impart all of the same texture, taste, and performance of animal-based ingredients – our AI-enabled Deep Plant Intelligence platform takes away the guesswork” said Zahn in the press release.

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Where is it being used?
Climax foods is already perfecting its versions of blue, brie, feta, and chèvre cheese, reported VegNews. The company is also working on perfecting a mozzarella cheese that is stretchy and perfect for pizza.
Earlier in 2023 Climax food partnered with the French Bel Group to redevelop the plant-based versions of Bel’s popular cheeses, including Laughing Cow, Babybel, and Boursin with new plant-based casein.
While Climax is starting with dairy products, the company believes that its precision formulation approach could be used to replace a host of animal-based products and change the planet’s approach to food.

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