Precision fermentation startup Change Foods has closed an oversubscribed seed funding round of $2.1 million, including investments from big players in the conventional dairy industry such as GERBER-RAUTH.
“We realize that the dairy ecosystem cannot and will not thrive if it remains static … an investment in Change Foods is a sound investment in the future of our industry”- GERBER-RAUTH CEO
The round brings the total capital raised by Change Foods to $3.1 million, to bring its animal-free dairy cheese to the US market in 2023. The cheese is made using precision fermentation, which allows the startup to create real cheese without the cows.
“This signifies an increasing open-mindedness from the dairy industry”
Change Foods founder & CEO David Bucca spoke with vegconomist today: “Conventional dairy companies see much promise in this technology to meet their growing demand, especially at a time when pressure is mounting for the dairy industry to meet their sustainability and climate commitments in the coming years.”
“We feel this signifies an increasing open-mindedness from the dairy industry, many of whom know first-hand the limitations of the current system. Investment and input from dairy companies with existing expertise and infrastructure certainly has the potential to expedite the availability of precision fermentation products.”
Christian Pichler, Chairman and CEO of GERBER-RAUTH, agreed. “As CEO of two SMEs active in international dairy trading for over 50 years, the dairy industry is both our heritage and our future,” he said. “But we realize that the dairy ecosystem cannot and will not thrive if it remains static, which is why we strongly believe that an investment in Change Foods is a sound investment in the future of our industry.”
He added, “Consumer preferences have expanded beyond traditional dairy products from cows and even beyond animal-derived dairy. That is why for GERBER-RAUTH, this new dairy ecosystem covers traditional animal-derived dairy, advanced plant-based alternatives, and new production technologies such as biomass and precision fermentation as well as stem-cell cultivation.”
“Ultimately we see ourselves as innovators, using precision fermentation and biotech as a tool to expand and disrupt antiquated ways of doing things and bring them into the 21st century.”
Change Foods said the new funding would be used to scale up its technology and compounds, complete its first cheese prototypes, set up its Bay Area R&D facility, and grow its team.
The future of Change Foods
While cheese is currently its clear focus, Change Foods says it is building a “modular approach to dairy” that could eventually allow it to develop products such as cream and yogurts.
“Change Foods just celebrated its first birthday. It has been a whirl-wind of a year” said Bucca. “We set up the US company, recruited an executive team and raised two rounds of funding, all via Zoom from Melbourne, Australia.”
The team has expanded with the recruitment of former Eat Just VP of Manufacturing Luis Espinoza, as well as Irina Gerry, formerly of Danone. Along with founder & CEO David Bucca, the team has now moved to the Bay Area, joining the thriving food tech scene and meeting in person for the first time due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
“Ultimately we see ourselves as innovators, using precision fermentation and biotech as a tool to expand and disrupt antiquated ways of doing things and bring them into the 21st century,” said Bucca.