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French cheese giant Bel, known for its global cheese brands Babybel, Laughing Cow, and Boursin, has entered into a partnership with U.S.-based Superbrewed Food in an exclusive arrangement to develop dairy-free cheese made through biomass fermentation.
“Pursuing our mission to offer healthy snacks for all, Bel innovates to support the changes in nutritional needs and meet the challenges of a sustainable diet for an ever-growing world population,” Bel Group Chief Venture Officer Caroline Sorlin said in a statement.
“We are very happy to enter this exclusive collaboration, which is testament to our pioneering role and acceleration on disruptive technologies,” Sorlin said. “As a family business, we are also proud to have adopted an ‘open collaboration’ model with over 100 partners, including start-ups, to stimulate and scale up their innovations and so prepare the future of food.”
Scaling up sustainable cheese
Bel, which recently launched vegan versions of its popular cheeses, says Superbrewed aligns with its goal of scaling up “its most promising technologies offering nutritional, environmental, and sensory advantages in its products for the benefit of people and the planet.”
The partnership will see Superbrewed’s ‘Postbiotic’ Cultured Protein developed for use under the Bel Group brand’s labels. The cultured biomass fermentation protein is made from microflora that converts plant fibers, according to Superbrewed. The protein contains all nine essential amino acids and is minimally processed. A 30-gram serving of the protein meets the U.S. FDA requirements for a “good source” of five b vitamins, including B-12. It’s also rich in a range of minerals, including iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
“We’re honored to partner with Bel Group to lead the industry in the application of highly scalable alternative proteins for cheese,” said Superbrewed Food CEO Bryan Tracy, PhD. “Given the global reach of their brands and inclusive “open collaboration” model, they are ideal partners for Superbrewed.”
Superbrewed Food was born out of Tracy’s interest in large herbivores including gorillas and cows. He discovered that one of the reasons these animals thrive on a plant-based diet was an active microbiome.
“So we said, ‘Well, why can’t we essentially take that out of the digestive system and do the same thing?’” Tracy told Food Dive last year. “Find the protein specialists that can eat plant fibers — low-cost calories — …feed that to a microorganism, have the microorganisms make incredibly nutritious protein. And that’s exactly what we’ve discovered inside of these microbiomes.”
The company was working in a stealth mode for several years before announcing it had made dairy-free milk and cheeses last year. It raised $45 million to develop its tech. Last year, it partnered with Acme-Hardesty to bring butyrate postbiotic supplements to the U.S. and Canada.
Bel Group Research and Application Director Anne Pitkowski says the cheese company is accelerating on its exploration into biomass fermentation because of its environmental, nutritional, and accessibility benefits, “without compromising on taste and pleasure.”
The new cheese products are expected to launch early next year.