Plant molecular farming: creating 'moo-free' cheese

Wednesday, 29 May, 2024

Plant molecular farming: creating 'moo-free' cheese

Plant molecular farming (PMF) could deliver a way to produce scalable, animal-free cheese that can fulfil cheese cravings.

Food-tech startup NewMoo, Ltd. makes its debut in the plant space by using PMF to produce casein proteins for making cheese. Caseins comprise about 80% of the proteins in dairy milk. The resulting product is designed to allow cheesemakers to deliver the same cheese experience as traditional dairy cheese via what NewMoo describes as a cost-effective, animal-free and sustainable pathway.

Until now, cheese alternatives have struggled to offer a real cheese experience with nutrition. Cheese analogs do not contain the key dairy proteins, caseins, necessary to precisely recreate the sensory properties of dairy cheese.

After three years of testing, scientists at NewMoo discovered a way to express casein proteins in plant seeds that can grow abundantly through traditional field agriculture.

The start-up’s technology and concept are built on 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 development process that is claimed to yield a hormone-free liquid casein naturally free of lactose and cholesterol and that replicates the functionality of dairy cheese.

By developing animal-free caseins through plants instead of cows, it is possible to make almost any dairy product, starting with cheese.

Daphna Miller, NewMoo co-founder and CEO, said: “Our animal-free liquid casein mimics all the functional traits of real milk protein for crafting cheese the traditional way.

“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 behaviour as animal dairy cheese and delivers the typical aroma, flavour and texture that cheese eaters crave. Our animal-free proteins are literally identical to animal-derived caseins.”

Image credit: NewMoo.

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