Today French cheese giant Bel Group, the company behind cheese brands Babybel, The Laughing Cow, and Boursin announced an exclusive partnership with precision fermentation specialist Standing Ovation to incorporate the startup’s animal-free casein milk protein into select cheese offerings. The deal follows an equity investment made by Bel Group into the Paris-based startup in September.
According to the announcement, the two companies scientific teams will work together at Bel’s R&D center in Vendôme, France, and at Standing Ovation’s facility in Paris. In addition, Bel plans to use Standing Ovation fermentation-derived casein – a protein critical in the cheesemaking process and helps give cheese its taste, aroma, and stretching and melting characteristics- in select Bel products.
Standing Ovation’s technology derives animal-identical proteins through microbial fermentation. The company uses protein-producing microbes and feeds them with plant-based sugars in fermenters. They then recover and purify the cheese proteins, then mix them with plant-based or mineral ingredients such as lipids and sugars.
“Caseins are essential to the quality of cheeses – they are nutritious and provide firmness, texture, and the capacity to melt,” Anne Pitkowski, Bel Group Research and Application Director, said. “Standing Ovation’s technology, combined with our knowledge of the links between structure and function, will enable all these features – and more – to be developed. Our unique cheesemaking expertise will put these advances into practice.”
Standing Ovation is part of a growing cohort of precision fermentation-focused startups building animal identical proteins for food companies to utilize in products such as cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Other startups such as New Culture and Fooditive are creating precision-derived caseins, while industry pioneer Perfect Day has made several products under its brands and partner brands utilizing both its animal-identical casein and whey proteins.
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