Article by: Hari Yellina
A combined US/Australian firm that makes cheese using the “magic of microorganisms” rather than cows has received an additional $16.9 million in funding from investors. The $21.5 million promised in support, according to Change Foods, is a record among the expanding number of alternative protein firms manufacturing animal-free dairy products. Although its headquarters are now in California, the Australian-founded company is perfecting its precision fermentation method in Brisbane.
Change Foods founder and CEO David Bucca stated, “Our objective is to reinvent the global cheese sector with innovative products that give the sumptuous flavour and eating experience of traditional animal-derived cheeses, but without the negative repercussions of industrialised animal agriculture.” Eden Brew and All G Foods, two other Australian firms in the lab-based dairy area, are both experimenting with breakthroughs in precision fermentation to imitate milk. Woolworths, a large retail operator, recently provided funds to All G Foods.
Route 66 Ventures led the oversubscribed financing round for Change Foods, which included many big international and Australian investment funds. Upfield, the world’s largest plant-based foods producer and leader in plant-based butters, spreads, creams, and cheeses, has inked the first of two strategic collaboration agreements with the new company (Violife). It has also reached an agreement with Sigma, a Mexican food giant with annual sales of more than $6.7 billion in cheese, yoghurt, and other categories. The two partnerships would “accelerate” Change Foods’ product development “as well as open the way to rapidly grow cheese manufacturing and distribution capability,” according to the company. The company claims that it plans to expand its precision fermentation technique to make caseins without using cows.
Mr Bucca claimed that cheese ranked third among all food products in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, trailing only beef and lamb. He is also a board director of Melbourne’s Food Frontier, an “independent think tank” on alternative proteins that has recently enraged Australia’s red meat sector with its views on food labelling. Change Foods plans to launch its first US market in late 2023.