Add Change Foods to the growing list of companies using fermentation to recreate dairy products without the cow. The company’s headquarters are based in Palo Alto, and it is currently in its R&D phase at its Australian subsidiary. To learn more about their product, I spoke with David Bucca, the Founder and CEO of Change Foods last week.
Bucca has worked for companies like Boeing, Hemple, and Hungry planet; after transitioning to a plant-based diet, he wanted to start a company that addressed the issues of climate change and animal welfare. To start Change Foods, Bucca brought on co-founder and now CTO Associate Professor Junior Te’o from the Queensland University of Technology to develop the fermentation techniques.
To create its cheese, Change Foods uses a fermentation technique, called precision fermentation, that is actually used to make insulin and animal-free rennet. Change Foods takes a variety of microorganisms (including yeast and filamentous fungi), genetically modifies them, and then ferments them with sugar. In turn, this produces key compounds like casein that are nearly bio-identical to those found in dairy and then can be combined with plant-based ingredients to create different products. The production cycle takes about one week to complete.
Companies in the plant-based cheese space are using cashews, legumes, and tapioca as the key ingredients in plant-based cheese products. However, for those who are omnivorous or flexitarian may not find that these alternative cheeses get the flavor, texture, or “meltability” right. Companies that create a hybrid dairy protein and plant-based cheese may be the solution to these particular consumers. San Francisco-based start-up Perfect Day ferments microbes and released a flora-protein based ice cream through the brand Brave Robot. Legendairy in Germany also ferments microbes and created a prototype for feta and mozzarella.
Change Foods is focusing on creating cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and the initial products will be priced about the same as artisanal cheeses. The company aims to be at market by 2022.