Milk and cheese, made by science

Scientists are using cellular agriculture to make ethical dairy products that eliminate the need for cows, but without compromising on taste and texture.


We are consuming more milk than ever before. The world now produces around 800 million tons each year – more than double the amount fifty years ago [1].

But dairy farming is environmentally unsustainable – increasing greenhouse gas emissions and putting pressure on precious resources such as land and water. Large-scale industrial farming practices also raise ethical concerns around animal welfare.

As a result, many are turning towards plant-based dairy alternatives, such as those made from nuts or grains. In the UK, for example, almost one-quarter of people are now choosing plant-based milks [2]. But these vegan-friendly alternatives lack vital components that give dairy products their unique taste and texture, such as casein and whey proteins.

But what if there was a way to eat delicious, ethical dairy products – based on milk proteins but produced without cows?

Legendairy Foods is a startup on a mission to do just that. To develop its animal-free dairy products, the company uses an approach known as ‘cellular agriculture’ to produce milk proteins. This process involves the use of genetically engineered yeast cells that can generate casein and whey when fed the right nutrients. The two milk-like proteins will be then separated from the yeast cells, meaning that any products will not contain any genetically modified organisms. Blending these with plant-based fats will lead to dairy products that look and feel as close as possible to the real thing – but importantly, without the need for cows.

The first products that the company hopes to bring to our table are mozzarella and ricotta cheese. To help accelerate its efforts, the startup is being supported by a consortium of investors. The fundraising was co-led by M Ventures, our corporate venture capital arm along with food tech investor Agronomics.

But making dairy without cows is just one of a wide range of products that scientists are working on in the field of cellular agriculture. For example, a team in our Innovation Center and Silicon Valley Innovation hub is working on technical solutions to accelerate the production of ‘Cultured Meat’, which is one of the highest in profile. And there are many start-ups working on other food products, such as ‘Clean Coffee’ – which could one day offer a more sustainable way to enjoy our daily brew without the need for deforestation or pesticides.

Cellular agriculture is an exciting technology that is set to play a huge role in feeding the world’s growing population in an environmentally sustainable way.

Additional information

Milk & cheese but no cows

Learn more about Legendairy in our Blog post

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