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Food innovation

Spanish start-up Väcka launches plant-based cheeses made from melon seed milk and olive oil

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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plant-based grated cheese in yellow packet on yellow background alongside plant-based cheese blocks and canteloupe melon slices

Barcelona-based foodtech company Väcka has successfully reformulated two products in its line of dairy-free cheeses, using fermented melon seed milk and extra virgin olive oil.

The two new ingredients in the Mözza and Pumpkin Chxddar products will replace the almond milk and coconut oil which is also currently used in their Vrie and Filä – a plant-based brie and cream cheese.

The innovation allows the start-up to produce Mözza and Pumpkin Chxddar in sliced and grated form. The former product was previously only available in a large block, while the latter used to be sold as a sauce or dip.

The company plans to eventually phase out the use of almond milk and coconut oil from its Vrie and Filä products.

The new cheeses have been made using a recently developed technology for which the company filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last December.

Väcka says the new ingredients have not only improved the taste of the products but also helped the company to reduce water consumption and land use by nearly 100%, as well as emissions by 91.8%.

The company also says the new formulation has made its cheeses healthier. By swapping coconut oil for extra virgin olive oil, the saturated fat content was reduced by 73.6% in the Mözza cheese. Melon seeds also contain a high amount of linoleic acid which is good for improving brain function, the immune system and reducing levels of cholesterol.

Ana Luz Sanz, CEO of Väcka, who co-founded the business with CTO, Maxime Boniface, in 2021, said: “We conducted a Life Cycle Analysis, where we researched various seeds and the melon seeds stood out for their nutritional value and properties in terms of aroma and taste. In addition, we have added ingredients of high nutritional value to the new versions, such as oats and beans, and calcium supplements.

“The result is a product that, among other properties, guarantees a 3.3 increase in the melted area, giving it greater elasticity and versatility in the preparation of tasty dishes”.

Väcka has plans for international expansion in the near future. Having been named a winner in the Carrefour Plant-Based Contest in 2022, the start-up hopes to soon be able to launch its products in France. It is also eyeing up a launch in Germany – one of the largest consumers of dairy cheese worldwide.

The company’s plant-based cheeses are currently available in more than 400 stores across Spain, as well as some eateries and pizzerias.  

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