Milk and cheese without cows?

Publish Date

05 JUN 2020


Cultured meat often hogs the headlines when it comes to lab-grown food. But there’s more to this fascinating field than burger patties and steaks. Legendairy Foods for example uses biotechnology to develop cheese and other dairy products based on milk-like proteins.

Cultured meat often hogs the headlines when it comes to lab-grown food. But there’s more to this fascinating field than burger patties and steaks. Founded in 2019, the Berlin-based startup Legendairy Foods is on a mission to “develop delicious and ethical dairy – based on milk proteins produced without cows”. This mission fits the zeitgeist perfectly: inefficient animal agriculture practices that contribute to climate change and diseases drive the need to create safe, humane and sustainably produced animal proteins. The global Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates this need more than ever.

To develop its animal-free dairy products, Legendairy Foods uses microbial fermentation to produce the same proteins that are found in cow’s milk, such as casein and whey protein. “By combining these proteins with plant-based fats, we are able to produce dairy products that behave like animal milk without requiring any animal husbandry”, says Raffael Wohlgensinger, founder and CEO of Legendary Foods. 

The company’s first goal is to produce mozzarella and ricotta cheese that compares favorably with the taste and texture of cheeses made using traditional production processes. “This addresses a key shortcoming of current vegan cheeses on the market; they cannot replicate those attributes because they don’t contain the casein and whey protein required to create a comparable product”, explains Wohlgensinger. Therefore, the products can be a great alternative for consumers who avoid animal products for ethical reasons but are looking for alternatives that are as close as possible to real milk and real cheese. And with the products also being free of hormones and antibiotics, consumers can expect additional health benefits.

While the US market is more advanced, Legendairy Foods is the first European company to work on producing animal-free dairy products that have the same protein composition as traditional dairy. It will still take some time before Legendairy Foods´ laboratory cheese will make its way onto supermarket shelves. To accelerate its efforts, the startup is being supported by a consortium of investors and has raised more than €4 million end of 2019. The fundraising was co-led by food tech investor Agronomics and M Ventures, our corporate venture capital arm. 

Legendairy Foods is the second company in the cellular agriculture space, that M Ventures has invested in. In 2018, M Ventures invested in Mosa Meat which is working to produce cultured meat products. These investments, together with the Innovation Center’s activities in the Cultured Meat Innovation Field, underscore our endeavors to accelerate the emerging industry of more sustainable, lab-grown food alternatives. 

*This image was produced before the COVID-19 crisis started. We take our responsibility seriously and fully comply with all protection rules.


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