Plant-based cheese company Nobell Foods has raised $75 million in a Series B funding round. Founded by Lebanese entrepreneur Magi Richani, the San Francisco-based startup claims to have unlocked the secret to stretchy, realistic vegan cheese.
“Magi Richani and her Nobell team are putting the eco in queso… milking a crop instead of a cow” – Robert Downey Jr.
An engineer by training, Richani understood that dairy proteins called caseins are fundamental to providing cheese with the qualities that consumers are accustomed to with traditional dairy, such as the melt and the stretch.
Richani and her team developed a method to recreate the genetic code of casein in soybean seeds and grow plants that have the same dairy caseins found in conventional dairy and can produce more caseins per acre more efficiently, sustainably, and cost effectively than cows.
Using the plant-derived casein as an ingredient, Nobell Foods can create more realistic dairy products, even including the stretchiness of fresh cheeses like mozzarella. The company aims to move first into foodservice, targeting pizza chains, and plans to launch its cheeses to the public by the end of next year.
With its Series B closing of $75 million, Nobell emerges with over $100M in funding backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and notable support from Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures, with a strong belief in Nobell’s mission and patented processes. Nobell will use funds from its Series B round to expand its team and farming partnerships, scale production and bring its product to market.
Downey Jr. commented: “Given the stresses our planet faces from population growth and climate change we need to find new ways to feed the world. Many fine folks are working to harness the power of plants, but substitutes for some foods, like cheeses, rarely mimic the delectable distinguishing characteristics convincingly. Magi Richani and her Nobell team are putting the eco in queso… milking a crop instead of a cow. FPCV wholeheartedly supports the product and believe its quality will speak for itself.”