Nobell Foods announces it has taken the top spot in the Agriculture category at Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards 2023, for its product which is self-described as the world’s first plant-grown cheese.
The news comes shortly after Nobell hired Sergey Solomatin, previously of Impossible Foods, ahead of this period of strategic growth for the company.
In July 2021, the San Francisco-based raised $75 million in Series B funding from numerous investors, including Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures. The startup said it would use the funding to expand its team and farming partnerships, scale production, and bring its product to market.
Real dairy proteins at low cost
Nobell was recognized for its work in creating highly realistic animal-free cheeses using real dairy proteins such as casein and whey. The startup codes microbes with dairy DNA, then uses precision fermentation to grow the proteins in soybeans.
“We’ve spent the past few years turning plants into efficient factories”
While more and more producers enter the space, creating animal-free dairy proteins using fermentation, most produce the proteins in bioreactors, which is expensive. Conversely, Nobell’s process uses soybeans — which are affordable to grow and highly protein-efficient — as bioreactors, in a technique GFI calls Plant Molecular Farming. As a result, products made with Nobell’s proteins have the potential to compete with conventional dairy on price.
Driving change in food
The startup is already working with farmers to grow the soybeans, while simultaneously developing animal-free cheese recipes in an effort to create an entire supply chain.
“I am honored to see Nobell Foods earn the top spot in the Agriculture category of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas!” comments Founder and CEO Magi Richani. “When talking about climate solutions, farmers are often left out of the picture. Farmers have been at the heart of our food system for centuries and bringing innovation to the farming community is what drives change in food.”
“At Nobell, we’ve spent the past few years turning plants into efficient factories for animal protein production. Using our Plant-Grown Protein (PGP) platform, we are able to make dairy proteins in one of the most affordable and efficient crops – soybeans – and benefit both farmers and the planet.
“We still have a long way to go to bring this innovation to as many farmers as possible, but PGP has the opportunity to bring new economic opportunities to farmers and affordable and sustainable options to consumers,” adds Richani.