Everything We Know About Lab-Grown and Cultivated Cheese

Everything We Know About Lab-Grown Cheese

Lab-grown cheese, vegan dairy, synthetic cheese, cultivated cheese, what's it called, where are we, who's making it, what are they making, is it vegan and can we get some.

Just some of the questions you probably have after hearing about this new industry that's slowly been developing over the last handful of years.

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Lab-grown cheese, vegan dairy, synthetic cheese, cultivated cheese, what's it called, where are we, who's making it, what are they making, is it vegan and can we get some.

Just some of the questions you probably have after hearing about this new industry that's slowly been developing over the last handful of years.

You've probably heard plenty about lab-grown meat, but maybe not much about vegan dairy cheese. We're here to break down some of these lab-grown cheese questions for you and give you an insight in to what is happening in this sector that is emerging and ready to revolutionise vegan cheese.

What Is Lab-Grown Cheese

Lab-grown cheese is a very simple idea, but gets far more complex the moment you look at those who are working on new developments in this industry.

It is a story of fermentation and creating the key to dairy cheese, casein, a story of creating proteins that can mimic what animal proteins do for dairy cheese, but without the animal-input.

The idea is that you get microbes from non-animals, you feed them via fermentation and you create a base product that you then process in to vegan cheese.

There are a number of lab-grown cheese makers now and they are all doing things slightly differently.

Below is a quick intro as to how they are making their vegan dairy casein and vegan dairy products from that.

Here is how Perfect Day create their casein protein which they use to start the vegan cheese process.

Microflora are tiny microorganisms that do powerful things, like nourishing trees and helping our own bodies digest. We’ve given them the precise DNA sequence that serves as a blueprint for how to make cow whey protein, the thing that makes milk taste, whip, and swirl like milk. Getting this DNA blueprint requires no animal involvement at all.

Microflora ferment everywhere in nature—in soil, in plants, in a cow’s stomach. The process helps forests flourish and keeps our guts healthy. It also makes our beer fizz, our yogurt thicken, our bread rise.

We place our microflora in a tank filled with broth made of water, nutrients, and sugar. And because they have the blueprints, when our microflora ferment the broth, they make a pure animal protein without ever touching an animal.

The aim here is to reproduce casein and other proteins from microbes, casein is the main protein that makes up dairy milk, with about 80% of milk comprised of casein and with lab-grown casein, it seems much easier to then recreate dairy cheese as vegan cheese.

But of course there is far more to this new technological drive than just microbes, proteins and casein.

The next step would be fermentation, but this is still only the beginning of the process and how the industry are working out to make these processes achievable for the masses.

It all comes down to recreating what dairy cheese is doing already, but without the animal-input and instead by using lab-grown proteins and then using fermentation processes to "grow" the cheese products.

What they are trying to do is basically recreate dairy cheese, but without the animal.

 

Who Makes Lab-Grown Cheese and Dairy

 

There are many different lab-grown dairy companies trying to and succeeding in creating lab-grown cheese and dairy. 

Below we cover both animal-free dairy and alternative proteins, both of which are lab-grown and give you insights in how each of the companies create their vegan dairy and cheese.

The basics of what they are all making can be seen in the photo below, this is the end product of what most lab-grown cheese companies are making.

You'll be surprised to notice that this isn't actually cheese, but it is powdered casein.

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And with most companies that we list below, they are not actually in the vegan cheese business, but in fact, they are in the business of creating the main ingredient of what will be the future of vegan dairy, plant based casein.

Through precision fermentation and processes that differ from company to company, they are all creating casein, an animal based protein, but that is actually produced without an animal in sight.

They are then either creating their own vegan cheese from this, using authentic and age old cheese making techniques. Or they are selling this ingredient to other companies who are already making and selling cheese.

So what we have below is a list of companies that are creating an ingredient that they are then selling on to other companies who will then use that to make their own vegan dairy cheeses.

 

Standing Ovation

Standing Ovation are a French biotech company who create plant-based casein, here is how they go about their process.

All of the ingredients for cheese can be found outside of conventional dairy. Except caseins – they’re the proteins that give cheese its unique taste, texture, and aroma.

Caseins are notoriously tricky to make, but through our experience in biotechnology and food science, we calculated how they can be manufactured through fermentation.

Using our new sustainable process, we realised we could make our own milk and otherwise follow the age-old cheese-making process.

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Much like the process above, the companies we share below all have similar ways to create vegan dairy powder and casein.

Perfect Day

Perfect day are already creating and selling "dairy" ice-cream in the United States under the name Brave Robot as well as Modern Kitchens cream cheese. So you'll actually find the lab-grown cheese is already here.

Our dairy products are made with animal-free milk protein from our ingredient partners at Perfect Day. The milk protein gives our ice cream the same taste and texture of traditional dairy with no lactose and a fraction of the environmental impact (plus no animals used means no animals harmed!).

Instead of milking cows, Perfect Day uses a process called precision fermentation to create milk proteins from microflora (like yeast) and plants. The precision fermentation process looks a lot like the fermentation process used to make kombucha or beer, and the output is pure milk protein – no lactose, no hormones, no antibiotics. It’s dairy, made better.

And it is with this same process that they will be creating vegan cheese.

Modern Kitchen products are made with animal-free dairy protein from our partners at Perfect Day. Flora, or microflora, are central to the process of creating animal-free dairy protein because they efficiently turn plant sugars into nutritious fats and proteins (in our case, whey protein!) through fermentation. Once the microflora are filtered out, we’re left with an animal-free dairy protein that can be used to make our cream cheese.

One of the problems for consumers is that of price, it costs $8 for a small tub of Perfect Day ice-cream. This is a much more expensive product when comparing it to other vegan ice-creams and far more expensive than dairy ice-cream.

Now this could be easily rectified, start giving these companies subsidies that the dairy industry are getting. After all, the only reason the dairy industry currently exists is because it is propped up by billions in subsidies.

ReMilk

Remilk are an Israeli company that are redifining the dairy industry.

Creating dairy that is a far superior version of itself. Dairy that is healthy, delicious, affordable, and 100% cruelty-free to our planet and animals. And identical to its traditional counterpart!

They are making lab-made dairy and focusing on casein protein which is identical to the protein from a cow, and with this will be working on vegan, lactose free and cholesterol free vegan cheeses in the future.

ReMilk are similar to that of Perfect Day, who are both aiming to recreate dairy, but without the animal input or environmental impacts of dairy and animal-agriculture.

New Culture

New Culture are calling their cheese "Cow cheese, without the cow".

Through the cheesemaking process, the casein protein found in milk transforms into curds, which are then turned into cheese. No casein, no curds, no cheese. By teaching our microorganisms to produce these proteins, we can make real dairy cheese without involving a single animal.

In a typical “uninstructed” fermentation process, microorganisms produce a whole range of ingredients and compounds as they break down the sugars around them, such as alcohols, acids, or flavors. Precision fermentation, on the other hand, is a type of “instructed” fermentation where microorganisms are told to produce a specific ingredient. In our case, that ingredient is casein, the start of the cheesemaking show.

Real Deal Milk

https://www.realdealmilk.com/ another lab-grown dairy company with vegan cheese in their sights.

Yeast cells don’t have tiny udders, but we can turn them into experts in producing casein and whey, the proteins fundamental to milk. Once a few other ingredients are thrown in, RDM milk is fit to go, on standby to produce a plethora of dairy products that can swap straight into consumers’ lives.

You can read more about how they make their vegan cheese here https://www.realdealmilk.com/how

Legendary Foods

https://www.legendairyfoods.de/products/our-product-and-process are another lab-grown dairy and cheese company on the brink of launching lab-grown vegan cheese.

We equip microorgansims with the genetic information to synthesize milk proteins. Similar to the beer brewing process — but instead of alcohol, our microorganisms produce milk proteins.

When enough protein has been produced by our cultures, we harvest the animal-free milk protein, and share it with our artisans for the next step.

We combine the milk protein with plant-based fats, carbohydrates and salt, to create a concentrate which is the basis for our final cheese recipe.

In the traditional way, fermentation enzymes or heat are used to coagulate this concentrate into a curd, the solid cheese component.

And from there, the company will either form a vegan cheese, such as a cream-cheese or will go on to create artisanal cheeses by ageing and using other processes, just like the dairy and vegan cheese industries already do.

As of late 2023, it seems that Legendary Foods might no longer be in business.

Nobell Foods

www.nobellfoods.com

What is unique about our cheese is that it contains plant-based casein. Casein is the main protein found in cow’s milk and it gives cheese all of its functionality—including its incredible stretch, melt, and mouthfeel. After over 4 years of research, our team has discovered a way to make casein from plants so we can get the same taste and texture that we all love about dairy without any of the environmental harm that comes from raising cows.

Nobell Foods are another casein and lab-grown dairy company that are creating the casein protein to make milk and then create vegan cheeses from this product.

All of the companies listed and expanded on above are creating actual dairy cheese but without any of the animal input.

FÆRM

FÆRM are nother vegan dairy cheese creator and innovator.

We believe that if we want an authentic plant product that can live up to the true cheese experience, we need our plants to go through the process that is tailored as perfectly to plant proteins as the cheese making process has been for cows milk. No easy feat! But we just knew that no amount of colorants and added flavors blended together with simple fat and starch would give us the cheesy experience we wanted from plants. So we got to work.

With our approach, we have created a process for a plant based product that is so unique, we were able to write a patent on it. But it is still so familiar, it can be implemented in existing dairies, without changing the equipment or staff!

They do not have any vegan dairy cheese for sale or ready for the market yet, but given they have won funding and innovator prizes they shouldn't be too far away from getting their vegan dairy cheese to market and ready to try.

Climax Foods

Climax Foods announced in summer of 2023 that they had created the first plant based casein with the help of AI.

The award-winning Climax Foods Inc., an A.I. Food Tech startup using data science and machine intelligence to create animal-free products from plants, today announced the discovery of the first-ever plant-based protein ingredient replicating the functional performance, in particular the melt and stretch of the dairy protein casein.  

This is another company spearheading the vegan dairy cheese and lab created casein and whey proteins that would otherwise come from animals.

At the moment they are fine tuning their brie, feta, blue and chevre vegan dairy cheeses but it seems they might be one step ahead of the competition because you can find their blue cheese at the following locations in the United States.

PureTure

PureTure are another new startup in the synthetic vegan cheese sector.

PURETURE can best be described as a Bio Technology Company. At PURETURE, we are committed to developing animal-free materials that can function like animal protein using only 100% plant ingredients.

Our new technology allows for us to make all types of dairy products using only plant ingredients and none from cows. As such, considering that plant cultivation is possible on Mars, it would be feasible to open up our very own Dairy Mart on the planet - where dairy products can be reproduced without the need for animals.

With the environmental impacts on our earth, we are inching closer to changes that have never been encountered before. It could be a massive residential migration project to find a new habitat or an inevitable change in the food that we eat.

Above you can see their finished product, which they then use to turn in to animal free dairy milk, cheese, ice-cream and so on.

They, like the other companies above are pioneering in the space of lab grown cheese through precision fermentation. They are based in New York, USA, which is another of the North American plant-based casein pioneer.

Nutropy

Nutropy, another French company in the biotech industry, creating plant based animal proteins are another example of the way the market are going.

They too are using fermentation to create casein, of which they will sell to other businesses for them to create futuristic vegan dairy cheeses.

Here is their four step process:

  1. We program yeast to produce bioidentical milk ingredients, acting as efficient, environmentally friendly and dependable micro-factories.
  2. Our yeast are fed sugars, minerals and vitamins in bioreactors to produce milk ingredients that we then harvest.
  3. We combine animal-free dairy proteins, fats (no cholesterol) and sugars (no lactose) to make animal-free milk that can be transformed into cheese by our partners via traditional cheesemaking savoir-faire.
  4. Finally, we enjoy many types of gourmet next-generation cheeses that are better for the planet, our health and the animals.

Change Foods

Finally, we have Change Foods who are creating plant-based vegan dairy cheeses from start to finish using fermentation and then age old cheese making techniques.

We harness the power of microbes to create real dairy proteins, fats, and flavors through precision fermentation.

We then utilize traditional cheesemaking techniques to turn them into cheese that tastes, stretches, and melts just as you’d expect.

No cows required!

 

 

Other Lab-Grown Vegan Cheeses Not Making Casein

Lab-grown cheese companies are not just on the hunt to recreate casein and recreate dairy milk, they are also creating new proteins from microbes and other processes to then create vegan cheeses in a lab.

Natures Fynd

Natures Fynd is already producing lab-grown vegan cheese that is ready to try. We have a couple of their cream-cheese options available to find on our database.

With a microbe called Fusarium strain flavolapis, they feed this through a fermentation process to create a powdered protein that they call Fy and from there then create a number of food products, including vegan cream cheese.

What s really interesting is that the microbe they originally used they sourced from geysers at Yellowstone National Park.

What Natures Fynd are not doing is making vegan casein, instead they are making their own plant based protein with which they work with to create vegan cheeses.

How Do They Make Vegan Cheese

They use a fermentation technology that produces what they call Fy, an animal free protein that is complete and even contains all 20 amino acids. They do this by feeding the microbe (that they collected) simple nutrients in a tray-based system which grows mycelium (fungi) that they then use as the base of their vegan cheeses.

You can read more about their process here or watch this video here:

Superbrewed Food

Superbrewed food are another protein maker but they are not making casein but instead vegan proteins which mimic proteins that we get from animals. Just like Natures Fynd, they are working with microbes and fermentation to create a protein base that they then use to create vegan cheeses with.

They sourced their microbes differently to Natures Fynd but everything else seems to be the same, creating new proteins and vegan cheese products from fermentation.

Our naturally-brewed microbial protein, created by the same anaerobic fermentation process used to make beer, yogurt, and even kimchi, delivers quality, affordable nutrition.

Bel will develop a line of cheese products incorporating Superbrewed’s Postbiotic Cultured Protein in its recipes, ensuring it delivers functionally, environmentally, and nutritionally interesting benefits to consumers.

These are two of the alternative lab-grown companies we have found that are also making cheese.

 

Is Lab-Grown Cheese Vegan Friendly

This is our main concern here at Vegancheese.co, to us, every animal is an individual and we would love to see a world were zero individuals are abused for a few minutes of taste pleasure.

As well as being vegan for the animals we are trying to do everything we are capable of to do less damage to the environment and leave it better than we found it.

With both of these questions in mind, we look a little deeper in to the relationship between lab-grown dairy cheese and veganism.

Are Animals Involved In The Lab-Grown Cheese Process

This totally depends on the maker of the lab-grown cheese, it does not seem that all of them are vegan at first look but the majority of them seem to be.

New Culture who are trying to perfect a vegan lab-grown mozzarella is 100% vegan as no animal is used at any stage of their process. 

Yes! Our dairy cheese is 100% animal-free.

Thanks to the wonders of precision fermentation! Instead of using a cow to produce the casein proteins that are vital to making cheese, we get mighty microorganisms involved in a fermentation process. This lets us make those same casein proteins, without involving any animals. This is a food technology that’s been around since the 1990s, and is actually a method that’s already used in dairy cheesemaking.

And it seems to be the same for most other lab-grown dairy makers.

Most seem to be using DNA from code databases that are then put in to fungi or similar to start the process and no animals are involved.

Or they are sourcing their initial starters from non-animal sources, such as geysers.

Where Superbrewed Food are different is that they originally sourced their microbes from poultry.

While Superbrewed’s key microbe is present in the human microbiome, it is more plentiful in herbivorous animals and the company isolated and extracted its initial microbes from the litter (or feces) of a healthy poultry flock that was free from antibiotics. No birds were harmed in this process and the microflora now self-propagates in Superbrewed’s fermenters with no animal inputs, allowing it to create a highly functional and nutritious vegan protein with vast potential. 

It seems that their initial microbe capture is from farmed poultry, which would make this non-vegan in our opinion and something we would have to clarify with them further.

We have emailed them about this and we wait to see their response.

But for the most part, and what is really interesting, is that all of the plant-based casein and whey protein manufacturers, they use no animals, are vegan and are recreating dairy products, but without the use of a single animal.

We believe this is where things get confusing in this industry, when we think lab-grown, we may think of lab-grown meat and the industry differs somewhat and some of the companies in that area actually use animal cells as starters in their processes and have animals involved.

With vegan cheese, we have only found one company, Superbrewed Food, which has any animal involvement.

Environmental Impact

We all know how bad animal-agriculture is for the environment, with two of the largest ocean dead zones having direct links to the dairy industry in France and the United States.

Is lab-grown dairy any better?

Let's see what Perfect Day have to say about it.

Making our milk protein produces up to 97% less carbon emissions than traditional milk production, so every product made with Perfect Day leaves a significantly smaller carbon footprint than its traditional counterpart.

That is pretty incredible, 97% less carbon emissions, but also not that hard to imagine, animal-ag creates an awful amount of GHGs in the production for food.

But that is not all, they also share the water use and energy use comparison data to the dairy industry.

Producing Perfect Day milk protein uses up to 99% less blue water than traditional milk. Conserving blue water – water that has been sourced from surface or groundwater resources like freshwater lakes, rivers, and aquifers – is something that even plant-based dairy alternatives have struggled to solve.

Natures Fynd also have their own environmental impacts which they take no qualms in sharing.

99% Less Land Our protein can be grown using roughly 99% less land than beef. In fact, Fy is quite efficient because we are able to produce over 120 xx more Fyper acre of land than beef. Because of this, we can grow Fy anywhere—from our headquarters in Chicago all the way to space.

94% fewer greenhouse gases. Unlike raising cattle for beef, our simple, inspired-by-nature technology produces very little CO2 and no methane which can have a huge impact on energy conservation. And with 50% of the planet’s population projected to live in cities, it’s more important than ever to grow food close to where people live. With our fermentation method, we can grow Fy in urban environments.

99% less water. One major advantage of our food production is the low water use. We don’t depend on rainfall to grow Fy and don't need to irrigate acres of land, which leads to less water use. Our fermentation is also less water-intensive than most other fermentation methods.

As you can see, no matter where you look, the numbers show how more environmentally friendly lab-grown vegan cheese is compared to its dairy counter part.

ReMilks environmental footprint is just another punch to the gut that is the dairy industry, here are numbers for their environmental impact.

Dairy crafted Remilk’s way is a breath of fresh air, with its production process emitting up to 97% less greenhouse gases! It also requires an estimate of around 1% of the land, 4% of the feedstock and less than 10% of the water compared to traditional dairy production - with zero animals harmed!

It's easy to see that the numbers speak for themselves, not only are they better, they are drastically better for the environment than that of dairy milks and cheeses.

Whats not hard to understand is that the environmental destruction will be negligible because there simply wont be any animals stood around in fields, which could have once been a native or broadleaf woodland or using crop fields to grow feed for them.

 

When Is It Available

The first lab-grown cheeses came to market nearly 2 years ago, Modern Kitchen by Perfect Day and Natures Fynd were not far behind with their Fy protein vegan cream cheeses.

This means at the moment there are two brands with lab-grown vegan cream cheeses available on the market right now.

For other lab-grown cheese makers it depends on the creator of the cheese, New Culture are still in the process of testing and say that it will be ready soon, how long is soon?

Superbrewed Food are now working with the Bel Group who brought us vegan babybel and Boursin cheeses and are looking at a 2023 release.

Bel and Superbrewed Food are entering a strategic collaboration to develop a line of cheese products incorporating Superbrewed Postbiotic Cultured Protein

What we find interesting here is that Bel have recently launched vegan Boursin and vegan Babybel cheeses. Does this mean they will be releasing vegan certified cheeses with their collaboration with Superbrewed Food? 

It will be interesting to see if they are vegan certified if there original starter microbes come from animals.

Nobell Foods are releasing their plant-based casein cheeses by the end of 2022 and early 2023.

Our cheese will be available by the end of 2022 or in early 2023. Yes, we can make any kind of cheese, and our current focus is on mozzarella and cheddar since they make up 60% of the cheese consumed in the US. To have the biggest impact, we know we must go after the largest market opportunities. 

Climax Foods

Climax Foods as of late 2023 have their vegan dairy blue cheese available to try in some restaurants in the United States right now, they can be seen here.

You will be able to get New Culture vegan dairy mozzarella in early 2024 as they have partnered with Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles and next year they'll be putting the New Culture vegan dairy mozzarella on their pizzas for everyone to enjoy!

So whether you want a vegan pizza smothered with vegan dairy cheddar cheese or mozzarella, you won't have to wait long!

Make sure to subscribe to stay up to date and we'll keep you in the loop for new lab-grown cheese news.

 

How Much Does It Cost

It is still very early in the production and development of plant based animal proteins, but there are huge strides being made.

From PureTure “The second reason is that the entire process of yeast fermentation, protein recovery and emulsification is carried out continuously – so it can be supplied at a price between 20% and 30% lower than the existing dairy ingredients in terms of production costs.”

These are just one of the companies in the industry that already state they are creating their vegan dairy ingredient cheaper than the current cost of animal based dairy.

This is very exciting and we have to remind ourselve's that the only reason animal based dairy products are so cheap now is because of subsidies.

Whilst most other companies will have huge prices because they are still researching and developing their products and ingredients, it is great to hear that some are already on par with dairy prices.

 

What Lab-Grown Vegan Cheese Is Next

It's an exciting time for vegan cheese, we're currently at 1800+ vegan cheeses available on the market today and you can see all of these on our one of a kind vegan cheese database.

If you select the filter, ingredients composition, you will see cultivated vegan dairy cheese and from there you will see any and all vegan cheeses that are available to buy today online or in a shop that are made with vegan dairy casein.

It looks like we'll be expecting many more new choices and options from the lab-grown cheese market in the next couple of years.

Lab-grown cheddar cheese and lab-grown mozzarella are next to be released after this first release of lab-grown cream cheese, with a number of manufacturers in the process of prioritising these two cheese family types for release next year.

Summary

There are a handful of labs creating lab-grown animal free dairy proteins and alternative proteins that are are all, except one (to be confirmed), vegan.

These companies are saying that their products are real dairy, but there is zero animal-input and a fraction of the environmental impact.

They make proteins in various ways but mostly through precision fermentation and the end result (for most) is a white powder that is dairy protein but without the animal input.

They create vegan cheeses with their animal dairy proteins (casein, whey, fy protein) and we currently have two brands available to buy on the market now.

Perfect Days Modern Kitchen cream cheeses and Natures Fynd cream cheeses, these are available in North America.

We will have vegan dairy cheddar and vegan dairy mozzarella in early 2023 from other companies.

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