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Israeli start-up NewMoo develops plant-based casein for dairy-free cheese
Siân Yates

Siân Yates

28 May 2024

Israeli start-up NewMoo develops plant-based casein for dairy-free cheese

Food-tech start-up NewMoo has developed animal-free cheese using plant molecular farming to produce casein proteins, the essential components of traditional dairy products. This innovation aims to offer a scalable, cost-effective and sustainable alternative to conventional cheese, meeting the growing demand for plant-based foods without compromising on taste and texture. NewMoo's technology allows for the expression of casein proteins in plant seeds, which can be cultivated through standard agricultural methods. Caseins make up about 80% of the proteins in dairy milk, crucial for replicating the sensory properties of traditional cheese. This development follows three years of research and stealth operations, leveraging intellectual property from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Daphna Miller, co-founder and CEO of NewMoo, said: “Our animal-free liquid casein mimics all the functional traits of real milk protein for crafting cheese the traditional way. It can seamlessly replace dairy milk in any cheese manufacturing facility without the need for special equipment, maintaining the typical aroma, flavour and texture that cheese eaters crave.” NewMoo's approach offers significant advantages over current methods like precision fermentation, which requires expensive bioreactor machinery. By using plant seeds as natural bioreactors, NewMoo can produce complex proteins abundantly and cost-effectively.

Additionally, the process sequesters carbon during cultivation, contributing to a more sustainable food production system. Miller added: “This method of making previously animal-based foods from non-animal sources benefits consumers, dairy producers, farmers, and the global climate. We believe this technology is the most suitable for bringing the future of sustainable animal-free dairy products.” NewMoo's innovation comes at a time when the global cheese market, valued at $135 billion, is projected to reach $220 billion by 2028, according to Euromonitor. The demand for plant-based alternatives is rising, driven by health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers, with 42% of consumers worldwide identifying as flexitarian. Hod Yanover, VP of food development for NewMoo, said: “Our goal is to assist dairy cheese manufacturers in broadening their market scope to include the burgeoning flexitarian demographic. We empower cheesemakers to create delectable and nutritious guilt-free products with ease and at no added costs.” Founded in 2021, NewMoo has raised $7 million in seed funding led by Lool and Zora Ventures. The company focuses on enabling consumers to enjoy milk proteins without the cow. Its team comprises experts in plant molecular genetics and food business development, including industry veterans from leading Israeli food companies such as Tnuva and Strauss Group.

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