New Culture is Scaling up to Produce Record Amount of Animal-Free Mozzarella

New Culture is Scaling up to Produce Record Amount of Animal-Free Mozzarella

New Culture uses precision fermentation technology to produce casein proteins used in its animal-free mozzarella, which debuted in June. Photo courtesy of New Culture.

New Culture, one of several emerging startups using precision fermentation to produce casein proteins, has scaled up its fermentation process to now make manufacturing volumes, specifically for its animal-free mozzarella. The company is confident that it can scale up while maintaining price parity with traditional mozzarella within the next three years.

Based in San Leandro, California, New Culture currently works with an external partner to produce fermentation batches of casein, a protein found in milk. These batches yield mozzarella that has the familiar qualities of conventional dairy cheese — melting, stretching and bubbling — for about 25,000 pizzas per year. The company’s ultimate goal is to scale up production in order to produce enough cheese for 14 million pizzas annually within the same three-year timeframe.

“Our world-class team at New Culture has solved a string of incredibly complex technical challenges in order to produce our animal-free casein at this scale,” said co-founder and CSO, Inja Radman, in a press release. “We are redefining the boundaries of what’s possible in dairy in a way that isn’t being done anywhere else.”

Related: 5 Food Companies Working With Precision Fermentation Technology

Founded in 2019, New Culture produces animal-free mozzarella through a unique blend of traditional cheese-making techniques and casein proteins cultivated via precision fermentation. The company debuted its animal-free mozzarella at Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles in June of this year. The official launch of New Culture’s mozzarella is set for 2024 at the same location, with plans for expansion to various pizzerias across the country.

Crossing this production milestone marks a significant step in introducing a dairy-free alternative to traditional mozzarella for pizzerias across the US. According to the startup, this achievement stands as the world’s first case of producing animal-free casein at such a considerable scale. Not to mention, following this breakthrough in production capability, New Culture says it achieved an 80 percent reduction in product costs. 

New Culture has received financial backing from notable food companies, including Kraft Heinz, ADM and biotech powerhouse CJ CheilJedang. These investments, totalling $28.5 million over seven rounds of funding, have helped advance the company’s innovative platform, which is capable of producing any type of cheese without relying on animal-based dairy.

As New Culture continues to advance its production capacities, it is laying the foundation for a relatively new sector that has substantial implications for animal welfare, environmental sustainability and human health. Advocates of precision fermentation argue that creating real dairy proteins without relying on cows is a win-win scenario: the nutritional and functional benefits of dairy without the ethical and environmental concerns associated with large-scale animal farming.

The conventional approach to cheese production involves substantial consumption of water and energy resources, as well as possible mistreatment of animals. In contrast, New Culture’s animal-free mozzarella demands only a fraction of these resources, thanks to precision fermentation. This groundbreaking process not only eliminates the necessity for animal-based ingredients but also allows consumers to enjoy the mozzarella they know and love.