USA – General Mills, an American manufacturer and marketer of processed foods, has announced that it has stopped producing Bold Cultr, its cream cheese brand launched in November 2021.

The statement was posted on Bold Cultr’s website a few days ago reading, “Dear fans and customers, with a heavy heart, we want to let you know that we are closing our doors as of 27 February 2023.”

This announcement follows General Mills’ decision to deprioritise Bold Cultr’s funding. The cream cheese brand was one of the first precision fermentation products from a major food company.

Initially, it was manufactured using animal-free whey from Perfect Day based in the US, but reportedly changed its supplier to Israel-based Remilk because Perfect Day’s supply contract had a limited duration.

The cessation of production is abrupt because General Mills told Food Navigator in January that it was planning on expanding Bold Cultr to more retail stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The product was aimed at consumers looking for cheese alternatives that have the same satisfying taste and texture of dairy, but without the animal, particularly Gen Z and Millennial vegan shoppers who still want to eat cheese, according to General Mills.

This development could prove detrimental to the precision fermentation industry as it raises concerns towards the legitimacy of the technology.

However, speaking at the recent Fermentation-Enabled Alternative Proteins event in San Francisco, Mars’ plant sciences director, Carl Jones, communicated that Mars was in test-and-learn mode with animal-free dairy.

Nestlè also recently launched animal-free dairy beverages under the cowabunga brand while Unilever officials said the company is interested in using animal-free dairy ingredients in ice cream.

More recently, major food companies in the industry come together to form the Precision Fermentation Alliance (PFA) aiming to promote the technology as a trusted solution for a more resilient and sustainable global food system.

The industry is rapidly growing fueled by the need for sustainable food to feed a rapidly expanding population living in a world grappling with climate change, degraded agricultural lands and water scarcity.

Although companies have talked about how animal-free dairy could be enticing for vegans and better for the environment, studies have shown consumers are most interested in the fact that dairy made without animals is more humane for cows.

Products manufactured using precision fermentation are also reported to incorporate the planet’s sustainability goals with reports on consumer trends predicting that in the future, consumers are expected to veer towards “planet-first nutrition” habits.

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