Our current food system is broken badly. Day-by-day it is causing so many problems to the environment, animals, and humans. Humans consume animals that not only disturb animal kingdom but also imbalances the environment. Livestock contributes 2/3rd of the food system. By reducing animal-based products would help in achieving both a healthy planet and a healthy population by driving changes with replacing affordable and tasty plant-based alternatives.
Although this was a complex task in bringing consumers cultural aspects, their taste reference at a sustainable price, however, Anja Leissner, a passionate biotechnology food scientist with technical expertise and experience of lipids, dairy, product development, etc, took up the challenge to develop a plant-based product starting from cheese by using science and technology to give similar taste with more nutrition.
Late 2018, Sorosh Tavakol, also known for his marketing and advertising agency, Videoplaza, was in search of ambitious scientists to revolutionize the dairy industry by making vegan cheese. In that period, Anja was engaged in different products of developing a vegan cheese prototype, which initiated her to contact Sorosh.
After the duo got to know each other and their passion, they begin the foundation of Noquo Foods to reinvent their favorite food cheese in 2019. The reason for starting with cheese was, it used to consider the last barrier why people were unable to turn fully vegan. Besides, statistics show that vegetarians and flexitarians both consume a lot of cheese than an average consumer.
They were not the ones who identified this problem of turning cheese to a sustainable plant-based product. As the demand for vegan cheese increased, lots of variety of cheese was introduced in the market, such as premium dessert cheese made of cashew, which was not only expensive but also but failed to impress customers. The most popular vegan cheese was introduced that was made of starch and coconut oil, which was cheaper comparatively whereas not liked for its taste.
Mimicking animal-based cheese is framed as an impossible task. Although the duo is focusing more on the taste of cheese as it is a priority to be a part of consumers’ cravings and demands. Later to get into setting prices with animal-based dairy products.
The startup is approaching majorly in combining different plant-based proteins such as pulses and other legumes to generate a stable matrix from the past 3 years. Although there is no such plant-based product that behaves in the same fashion as a dairy product. The only solution is to select the specific proteins and combine them in a way that they imitate the dairy protein.
According to Anja, achieving cheese proteins is a complicated task that has not a single theory to achieve the look. This indicates that the team is focusing on investigating plant-based proteins on a molecular level along with testing them in case of texture and response to stress and heat.
Noquo’s team has already developed 2 types of cheese using this technique, whereas now it is majorly focusing on replicating the dairy protein. Although, dairy protein approach is not entirely new however Noquo’s R&D team has an upper hand in solving the puzzle, and it is noteworthy that no big organization dares to get into the long-term R&D project as Noquo is in.
From the investment part, the startup recently bagged €3.25 million from a group of investors. They are planning to spend this raised investment in R&D and establishing its home market in Sweden. Besides, it is aiming to launch feta like cheese in 2020 and cheese spreads and slices in 2021.
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