Biotech startup Climax Foods announces it will soon introduce its first “moonshot” products – artisanal plant-based cheeses – to select audiences in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. The company also reveals it is building its first production facilities for an early 2023 launch with soon-to-be-announced distribution partners.
“The foundational work that Climax has done to unlock the full flavor potential of plants will open countless doorways”
Described as “zero compromise” plant-based products, Climax’s first offerings include cultured and aged Blue, Brie, Feta and Chèvre cheeses. According to the company, these products match the taste, nutrition, and price of dairy cheese.
To create the products, Climax says it relies on non-allergenic ingredients such as seeds, legumes and plant oils, and that its offerings are free from nuts, cholesterol, and GMO ingredients.
“We started from a profound appreciation for the complex flavors and textures of dairy products,” says Climax founder and CEO, Dr. Oliver Zahn. “Cows have made our milk for thousands of years. However, less than 10% of the plants they eat get turned into food for humans, which has led to significant environmental and health problems in today’s much more crowded world.”
Zahn continues, “It is human nature to rethink ancient practices, so we came up with a smarter way. By using data science to accelerate plant-based ingredient and process discoveries, we are saving thousands of years of tinkering to create products that are just as tasty as the cow-based predecessors without the downsides, today.”
“Deep Plant Intelligence”
Founded in 2020, Climax utilizes a “Deep Plant Intelligence” data platform that combines molecular-level learnings about animal products with proprietary plant ingredient functionality databases. Together, this knowledge is used to create “digital recipes” from ingredients selected from thousands of edible plants.
To capitalize on its rapid product innovation ability, Climax says it is now building a production hub for its cheeses and a pilot plant for proprietary ingredients in Petaluma, California. These commercialization efforts are being led by Caroline Di Giusto, an expert in global dairy cheese manufacturing and innovation.
In 2020, Climax raised $7.5M in seed funding. “We see a bright future as the foundational work that Climax has done to unlock the full flavor potential of plants will open countless doorways to an exciting planet-supporting food industry,” said Tom Chi of At One Ventures, one of the company’s early investors.
While initially launching artisan cheese to showcase the power of its platform, Climax’s CEO says the startup intends to take on bigger categories. “Our technology and ingredient discoveries will soon power the replacements of bigger categories with successors that will be equally delicious and nutritious but more sustainable and – because our products are not heavily processed – substantially more economical and environmentally friendly,” says Zahn.