The burgeoning revolution in food tech continues apace with news that the French startup standing ovation raised €12 million ($12 million) in a Series A funding round to develop an animal-free casein for use in cheese.
Casein, for the uninitiated, is a protein found in dairy products, and which makes up about 80% of cow’s milk — it’s also what gives milk its white appearance. While the vegan cheese market was considered a $2.5 billion industry in 2021, most people would agree that it doesn’t quite live up to its milk-based counterpart, and lack of casein is a major reason for that – aside from color, casein is responsible nutrients, smell and even physical “functionality” in cheese, such as the stringy elasticity that characterizes mozzarella.
Founded in Paris in 2020, Standing Ovation essentially replicates caseins in a lab environment, and achieves this through a “precision fermentation” process to recreate what is a staple ingredient for non-animal, lactose-free dairy alternatives. Ultimately, it’s about reducing our dependence on animals and trying to save the planet – a problem of gargantuan proportions.
“Casein is the holy grail for producing alternative options that match conventional products in nutrition, taste and texture, but it has remained notoriously difficult to create,” said Eric Archambeau, co-founder of Astanor Ventures. who led the Standing Ovations investment, in a statement. .
Standing Ovation is far from the only company working on this problem – investors are salivating over companies like Remilk from Israel and San Francisco-based New Culture. And more broadly, food-tech startups are working on all sorts of synthetic protein alternatives, with lab-grown meat and seafood moving closer to consumer markets. And then there are companies like Cultivated Biosciences, which are using awesome new techniques to create vegan foods that have a similar creaminess and “mouth feel” to real dairy.
The vegan food market was a $27 billion industry last year, so it’s clear why investors are lining up behind all these companies. And in fact, there are now venture capital funds dedicated solely to food tech startups, with French firm Five Seasons Ventures and London firm Synthesis Capital having together launched nearly $500 million in funds in the last year.
With $12 million in new funding from Astanor Ventures, Peakbridge, Seventure Partners, Big Idea Ventures, Good Startup and an undisclosed “major player” in the food industry, Standing Ovation is now well funded to develop animal substitutes and lactose-free for cheese and other dairy products. Indeed, product development and R&D are just a few of the hurdles that Standing Ovation and its industry counterparts face – they will also have to go through rigorous regulatory processes in each of the markets they wish to enter. their products available.
“Standing Ovation’s technology has enormous potential, but bringing products to market quickly requires significant resources and substantial funding had become necessary,” said CEO Frederic Paques.