Cheese Alternatives

Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys Reveal “First-of-its-Kind” Collab to Expedite Production of Cow-Free Cheese

Two precision fermentation companies — Germany’s Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys from Belgium — today announce a strategic R&D alliance to accelerate the production of animal-free casein and finally retire cows from cheese production.

This “first-of-its-kind” collaboration will bring together over 60 world-leading scientists to create a “powerful and experienced” research team that will improve technological efficiency, including efforts in strain engineering, bioprocessing, and large-scale production of caseins.

The companies believe that by joining forces, they can more quickly achieve price parity with milk proteins, thus making cow-free cheese more competitive and accessible to consumers. The companies explain that they plan to combine their manufacturing outputs to achieve economies of scale; nevertheless, each firm will maintain its distinct identity and market its lines of cow-free cheese.

TVC founder Jaap-Korteweg and stainless-steel cow Margaret
TVC founder Jaap-Korteweg and stainless-steel cow Margaret – Image courtesy of Those Vegan Cowboys

EU regulatory approval

Additionally, the companies will leverage their roles as founders of Food Fermentation Europe to address legislative challenges and expedite the approval of precision fermentation proteins and other compounds in the EU market, which is falling behind North America and Asia.  

According to the companies, EFSA has expressed strong support for joint dossiers in the past, as they can lead to increased efficiency in the review process. Therefore, they are strategically pooling resources and leveraging established dialogues with EFSA.

Hille van der Kaa, CEO of Those Vegan Cowboys, comments: “We have this amazing technology with the potential to solve multiple acute problems in our food system at once. But with current legislation timelines, we see companies submit their applications in the USA & Asia – we need more speed and efficiency when it comes to European dossiers.”

Germany's Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys from Belgium, announce a strategic R&D alliance to accelerate the production of animal-free casein and finally retire cows from cheese production.
Image courtesy of Those Vegan Cowboys

A more sustainable future

Formo and Those Vegan Cowboys state that by combining their expertise, resources, and knowledge, they aim to push the boundaries of science-based entrepreneurship and work together to drive a positive change in the dairy industry.

Formo, founded in 2019 by Dr. Britta Winterberg and Raffael Wohlgensinger, is believed to be Europe’s first precision fermentation firm to develop animal-free dairy products. In 2021, the company secured $50 million to build its pilot plant, fast-track commercial-scale production, and expand its molecular biology and food science team.

After years of R&D, the company has developed various products, including a cow-free cream cheese. Last year, the company unveiled chicken-free eggs made with a non-GMO microbial strain without novel food regulatory constraints that could launch into the market this year.

Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman founded Those Vegan Cowboys in 2020 to make grass-fed dairy products using microbes instead of cows. They assembled a talented team of scientists and established a “milk lab” in Ghent, Belgium, focusing on developing casein.

In 2023, Those Vegan Cowboys’ fermentation platform, Margaret, made the first batch of caseins for its first cow-free cheese. The Belgian firm is currently raising €15 million to scale its operations and produces cheese for everyone.

Van der Kaa and Wohlgensinger shared, “Through our approach, we show how collaboration among ventures can unlock unprecedented levels of speed, efficiency, and impact. It represents a transformative leap to advance the precision fermentation space as a whole, thus spearheading the charge towards a more sustainable future.”




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