Legendairy Foods, which ferments microorganisms into cheeses with the same process used for making insulin, has raised $4.7 million from a group of investors that include German drugs and tech company Merck KGaA (not to be confused with the American drug company, Merck) and UK-based investment company Agronomics.
The Berlin-based startup told Bloomberg it has already created prototypes of mozzarella and ricotta. The company’s process involves mixing microorganisms and sugar, fermenting them into milk protein and creating dairy products such as cheese. It also plans to integrate plant-based ingredients into its products.
“The food industry has crossed an inflection point — for the first time in human history, we are capable of producing real dairy products without the need of breeding and raising animals,” Raffael Wohlgensinger, co-founder and CEO of Legendairy, said in an investor release. He added that the company will “fully leverage our core technology and bring our delicious, animal-free cheese to market in the coming years.”
Legendairy, which says it is Europe’s first cellular agriculture company developing lab-grown dairy products, joins a growing group of startups dedicated to removing animals from the process of creating milk. Perfect Day, which this month raised $140 million in Series C funding, creates dairy products with genetically engineered microbes and plans to sell its products to foodmakers. Another company that creates dairy from genetically engineered microbes is New Culture, which closed a $3.5 million seed round. It plans to sell its cheeses into high-end restaurants. Meanwhile, TurtleTree Labs is creating milk in a whole different way: actually growing mammary gland cells in a lab to produce milk.
It’s clear that in the coming years, there will be plenty of options besides nut- and soy-based milk and cheeses for those who forgo animal-derived dairy products.