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Vienna’s Fermify, which has created a digital platform that can produce casein proteins via precision fermentation, has concluded a pre-seed undisclosed funding round led by Übermorgen Ventures and Backbone Ventures, with participation noted from Bitburger ventures, Kale United and Push Ventures.
Fermify says its technology offers identical or superior performance and nutrition to conventional dairy proteins. Pre-seed funding will be used to support the launch of its cheese, which will serve as proof of concept for the entire platform.
“By summer 2022, we want to enjoy our precision fermentation-derived cheeses with Austrian wine together with our team and new partners” Eva Sommer, Fermify co-founder and CEO said in a statement.
Dethroning conventional dairy
“Dairy production is not only extremely carbon-intensive, it also has negative effects on our health and on animal welfare. While numerous plant-based alternatives for meat and milk are already on the market, there are very few cheese alternatives that can live up to the eating experience of cheese made from mammal milk,” Adrian Bührer, managing partner at Übermorgen Ventures said in a statement.
“In order to reach the mass market, however, innovation is needed. Fermify’s approach not only matches conventional cheese in terms of taste and texture, it is also less carbon-intensive and can be healthier to consume. We are excited to join Eva and her experienced team on their mission to disrupt the cheese market and provide a meaningful solution to fight climate change and animal injustice.”
Research frequently bands meat and dairy together when discussing climate impact of livestock. However, a 2019 report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that in 2015, dairy production accounted for 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2. This meant that dairy represented 3.4 percent of total global emissions, double that of the aviation sector. Dairy consumption is increasing, even despite the growing demand for dairy-free alternatives.
Fermify’s next steps to develop alternative dairy
With the funding, Fermify has revealed plans to expand its team, scale technology, and fast-track its first cheese production. The startup says its aim is to remove cows from the dairy industry by 2027.
Sommer added that “ ‘I love those vegan cheeses and will give up conventional cheese’, is something nobody ever said, but with the help of Fermify’s casein production platform there is a way to satisfy the world’s appetite for cheese without harming animals or our planet.”
The startup will make its first cheese a reality through the ‘domestication’ of microorganisms. Training them to replicate functionally identical proteins to those found in animal dairy, Fermify has yet to confirm what style of cheese it intends to debut later this year.
Chasing Perfect Day’s success
California’s Perfect Day has set the standard for precision fermentation dairy startups globally. Its dairy-identical proteins are fully developed and being used in a range of foods, including Betterland Milk, Woo chocolate and Brave Robot ice cream. It has made strides forward in removing cows from the dairy sector and now serves as a template for others.
France’s Bon Vivant has made no secret of wanting to become Europe’s answer to the alternative dairy protein supplier. The startup recently netted €4 million to continue its R&D efforts.
Lead photo by Fermify.