Parisian start-up Nutropy has secured €2 million (around £1.7M) in a pre-seed round to produce animal-free French cheeses using fermented ingredients.
Established by Nathalie Rolland and Dr. Maya Bendifallah, the female-founded company plans to use the funding to accelerate the pilot production of its premium cheeses, which it hopes can be ready for market in the next two years.
Nutropy uses precision fermentation to create a casein that’s bioidentical to its dairy counterpart. Casein, a protein found in milk, gives cheese its signature taste and texture.
The start-up also develops animal-free dairy-like fatty acids using carefully selected cheese cultures. These help to give their products the traditional flavour of animal-based cheese.
To create their cheeses, Nutropy feeds yeast with sugars, minerals and vitamins to produce milk proteins and fatty acids in bioreactors, before harvesting them.
The ingredients are then combined to develop an animal-free milk, and mixed with selected ingredients inspired by traditional French cheesemaking methods to produce a new generation of gourmet plant-based cheese.
The first product the company plans to prioritise for launch is a premium aged French cheese close in style to camembert.
The fermentation process gives the product the same stretchy texture and creaminess as animal-based cheeses, according to Nutropy. The start-up hopes its plant-based cheeses will attract consumers who are currently not finding vegan cheese appetising.
Nutropy’s technology uses fewer natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions and is less polluting to water than traditional methods of cheese production. It is also lactose free and lower in cholesterol, says the start-up.
Nathalie Rolland, CEO of Nutropy said: “As cheese lovers, we know the importance of cheese in our gastronomic culture and want to offer consumers a wide range of cheeses free of lactose and dietary cholesterol that are produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.”
Leading investors in the pre-seed round included Big Idea Ventures, Beast and Trellis Road. The other contributing investors are VegCapital, FoodHack, Techmind, several international business angel investors specialising in foodtech and agriculture, as well as the French government.
Founder and Managing Partner of Beast, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky, said in a statement: “We are particularly impressed with Nathalie and Maya’s innovative vision for scaling fermentation processes and their dedication to producing innovative, impactful products.
“We are proud to welcome them to the growing Beast family of climate deeptech companies.”
Andrew D. Ive, Founder and Managing General Partner of Big Idea Ventures, added: “We are excited about Nutropy’s technology and the quality of the products the team has been able to produce.
“I tried their premium cheese at one of our events, and the texture and taste were indistinguishable from premium, animal-based cheese. Using bio-identical ingredients is a game changer.”