Despite precision-fermentation-made animal-free cheese not yet hitting the mass market, the first-ever large-scale study of consumer acceptance for animal-free cheese has revealed that such products will immediately challenge conventional dairy in the $240 billion cheese market. The response was overwhelmingly favourable for precision fermentation-made animal-free dairy, with 71% of respondents willing to buy and 79% willing to try.
Precision-fermentation company Formo and the University of Bath co-published the study, having surveyed 5,054 individuals from Brazil, Germany, India, the UK, and the USA. The study reveals strong consumer enthusiasm for animal-free cheese across various countries, age groups, as well as dietary preferences. Crucially, these products have mass-market potential far beyond the vegan category, with the recent study showing flexitarians to have the highest levels of enthusiasm.
By inserting a copied stretch of cow DNA, precision fermentation techniques allow microorganisms to produce real milk without animal cruelty. With industrial animal agriculture responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, keeping animals out of dairy production is more efficient and beneficial for all. The study confirms that consumers recognize this process as more ethical and sustainable, as conventional cheese production incurs the highest environmental footprint of all animal-based products after red meat.
After recently rebranding from former name LegenDairy Foods, Germany’s Formo develops bioidentical, animal-free milk proteins with the same taste, functionality, and nutrition profile as conventional animal-based cheeses. The study found higher levels of consumer dissatisfaction with plant-based cheese, and that consumers perceived precision-fermentation-made animal-free cheese as offering a significantly better taste profile.
“Just as we have seen plant-based milk taking an increasing share of the milk market in recent years, we now see that consumers are ready for a new kind of animal-free dairy cheese product,” stated Christopher Bryant, PhD, of the University of Bath. “Seeing the growing consumer groups of flexitarians and young people driving adoption of animal-free cheese is a big indicator that these products will appeal to consumers far beyond the niche markets of current vegan cheese”.
“We’re hearing loud and clear that consumers are ready to embrace animal-free dairy products”, explained Raffael Wohlgensinger, Co-Founder & CEO at Formo. “There’s never been a better time to ask ourselves what we want from our food system and it’s now that politicians should support sustainable innovation like precision fermentation. Where the future of food is concerned, fast-moving environments like the US and Singapore are starting to become hubs of innovation, so it’s high time politicians here got on board with the potential of alternative proteins through proactive initiatives”.