Alternative protein company Change Foods has raised $875,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed round of funding, surpassing its initial target of $600,000. Green Queen Media was first to break the news. Participating in the round were Twitter’s Asia-Pacific VP Maya Hari, abillionveg founder Vikas Garg, game developer Tom Crago, and existing investors Newstead and Klar.
Change Foods plans to use the funds to scale up its precision fermentation technology, which the company is using to develop an initial prototype of an animal-free cheese it says will look, taste, and cook like dairy-based cheese.
Most alt-cheese products currently available still fall well below the bar in terms of replicating the real thing in terms of taste, texture, and functionality. That’s largely because those products don’t contain the casein compound, which is found in cow’s milk and is an essential ingredient of cheese. To get that compound and others, Change Foods genetically modifies microorganisms and ferments them with sugar in a process known as precision fermentation.
Speaking to Green Queen, Change Foods founder David Bucca said better precision fermentation technology could lead to a less vulnerable dairy supply chain, since products can be made locally, have a longer shelf life, and don’t require cold chain infrastructure to transport.
Fermentation has been called “the next pillar” of alternative protein alongside plant-based and cell-based proteins. Precision fermentation is one method within that larger fermentation category, and is also used by companies like Perfect Day and Impossible Foods.
To start, Change Foods is developing mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, though it plans to branch out into other dairy products in the future. The plan is to sell products via B2C channels by 2023.
In the meantime, Change Foods will also use some of the pre-seed funding to expand its core team. It also has ambitions to raise a $4 million seed round in 2021.