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Bel Group teams up with Standing Ovation to develop animal-free casein protein for cheese

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Assorted cheeses on a wooden cutting Board. Camembert, brie, Parmesan and blue cheese with grapes and walnuts, on white background

French cheese company Bel Group ­– owner of brands such as Babybel, the Laughing Cow and Boursin – has announced a new collaboration with Standing Ovation to incorporate cruelty-free casein milk protein into its alternative cheese offerings.

Founded in 2020, Paris-based Standing Ovation uses precision fermentation technology to produce casein proteins that don’t come from animals.

Because the proteins are identical to those which are naturally present in animal-derived milk, Bel Group says they will help give its cheese alternatives the same nutritional values, functionality and good taste seen in its dairy-based cheeses – while offering a lower environmental impact and being accessible to those with dairy intolerances.

Frédéric Pâques and Romain Chayot, respectively President and Scientific Director, and Co-Founders of Standing Ovation, said: “We have developed a unique process to produce non-animal caseins. Our ambition today is to see the first products arrive on the market quickly, with a very wide distribution.

“We are proud to partner with Bel Group to accelerate the deployment of these alternative proteins, whose market is growing exponentially, and where we want to play a key role. We look forward to working with a Group with proven cheese expertise, iconic brands and a collaboration model that is ideal for start-ups.”

Both companies’ scientific teams will work together on the application of the animal-free casein proteins at Bel’s R&D centre in Vendôme, northern France, and at Standing Ovation’s facility in Paris.

Anne Pitkowski, Bel Group Research and Application Director said: “Caseins are essential to the quality of cheeses – they are nutritious and provide firmness, texture, and the capacity to melt. Standing Ovation’s technology combined with our knowledge of the links between structure and function will enable all these features – and more – to be developed.

“Our unique cheese-making expertise will put these advances into practice. This partnership opens many possibilities for imagining tomorrow’s cheese recipes and products, combining nutritional quality, accessibility, and responsibility.”

The new deal follows Standing Ovation’s oversubscribed funding round, which attracted €12 million investment in September. Bel contributed an equity investment to the sum, alongside other investors including Astanor Ventures, Big Idea Ventures, Good Startup, Peakbridge, and Seventure Partners.

This partnership isn’t Bel’s first foray into fermented ingredients this year. Earlier in July, the company announced it would be teaming up with US-based cultured protein start-up Superbrewed Foods, to test out how to use its Postbiotic Cultured Protein in some of its product applications.

From cheese to plant-based meat, the popularity of fermentation in the production of alternative proteins is booming. Find out what the future holds for the technology in this Food Matters Live Podcast episode:

Is fermentation still the future of food?


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