SWITZERLAND – Swiss-based Cultivated Biosciences has raised US$1.5 million in a pre-seed round for scaling up the development of its fat ingredient, made via a non-GMO yeast fermentation process, which boasts a color and texture ‘indistinguishable’ from dairy cream.

The fresh funding to develop solutions to the challenge of improving mouthfeel and texture in plant-based dairy was led by Wingman Ventures, with participation from firms including Big Idea Ventures, Blue Horizon, ProVeg International, and the FoodHack syndicate.

Fats and mouthfeel are the ‘next frontiers’ in food ingredient development, proclaimed Zurich start-up Cultivated Biosciences.

There is growing recognition that the fats used in alt-protein products need to be improved in order to compete with the taste and texture of animal-based foods.

However, hard vegetable fats like palm, coconut, shea, and cocoa can only be grown in the tropics and bring health and environmental sustainability concerns.

 The startup said the funding will enable the growing team to further optimize the production processes, research food applications, and start product development with their first clients.

Cultivated Biosciences stated: “Our ingredient does need to go through Novel Food Approval in the EU and GRAS in the US. We will start doing test launches in 2024 in the US, expand in Europe in 2025, and continuously expand commercialization as we scale up production.”

Currently, the majority of effort has gone into researching alternative proteins, their functional properties, and interactions in food matrixes. Fats have been neglected for the moment and there are very few options.”

According to the swiss company, cultivated is developing a fat ingredient from oleaginous yeast’ which offers the creaminess needed for plant-based dairy using a clean label and sustainable production process.

The cultivated process involves feeding sugars to a replicated non-GMO yeast to produce fat molecules. These are then extracted via a proprietary process that creates a creamy fat.

The process can be optimized to improve mouthfeel in target applications, from sauces to cheese and chocolate ganache.

The ingredient is said to have the same texture and color as dairy products, low lipid oxidation, and natural emulsification properties, the biotech start-up claimed.

It is cholesterol-free and the nutritional value is relatively similar to dairy cream. Intriguingly, the company hopes to soon begin collaborating with clients on the development of savoury products, such as cheese, butter, and cream cheese.

The company currently has access to 50L bioreactors and is in discussions to produce in larger capacities.

The sustainable, clean-label fat from the company that improves the mouthfeel of plant-based dairy products was said to have the potential to win over flexitarian consumers who are not satisfied with the options currently available by its scientists.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro-industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE.