German food-tech start-up Formo scales-up product of animal-free cheese

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: animal-free cheese, Formo, Brain Biotech

German start-up Formo will scale-up bioidentical milk protein production following a partnership deal with BRAIN Biotech.

Formo will increase production using genome editing technology, leveraging BRAIN Biotech’s expertise and proprietary BRAIN-Engineered Cas (BEC) platform to support strain development of animal-free cheese products.

“Using precision fermentation, we can remove the cow from the dairy supply chain, reducing greenhouse emissions by 91 to 97%,”​ says Dr Britta Winterberg, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Formo.

She adds that “with the expertise of top-notch scientists​” the partnership with BRAIN will establish Formo’s role as a global market leader “at a more rapid pace”.

Precision technology

BEC technology is a novel genome-editing tool and has significant commercial potential in the development of nature-identical applications, including for healthcare and diagnostics.

BRAIN Biotech Head of R&D, Dr Michael Krohn comments: “Precision fermentation is an example of how genome editing technology can be used to generate a protein that is nature-identical but can be produced more sustainably than animal protein."

The biotech actively seeks “strong partners​” essential to the development process and route to market.

BRAIN Biotech, EVP and Head of Business Development, Dr Martin Langer says, in this respect, Formo is an “ideal strategic partner”​ due to its “agile decision-making processes, candid approach and clear ideas.”

He describes the company as “a pioneer in many respects​” and believes that, combining their technological expertise will result in a “unique partnership​”.

Capitalising on trends

Formo has developed an entirely new product category of animal-derived products and plant-based alternatives using ‘identical milk proteins’ with specialised micro-organisms.

Selected microorganisms are encoded with milk protein DNA sequences and cell growth stimulated using a fermentation process to produce protein for harvesting.

Milk proteins are combined with plant-based fats and carbohydrates to create the base for the cheesemaking process.

The end product (curd) can be used to create a ‘whole spectrum’ ​of cheese varieties, in the same way an animal-derived curd.

Consumer research confirms demand for animal-free and sustainable food is increasing; 79% of respondents to a recent survey conducted by Formo said they were prepared to try animal-free cheese products.

The start-up intends to be at the forefront of these developments and “strives to revolutionise​” the €612bn (£517bn) dairy market, while cutting CO2 emissions.

It wants to make the best of European cheese culture for everyone but with “a good conscience”​, using more sustainable technology.

The partnership will help optimise micro-organism production to meet expansion targets for sustainable protein production for commercial use.

Dr Winterberg comments: “Our products can be the first of their kind produced on an industrial scale and offered at competitive prices​.”

Who’s who

BRAIN Biotech AG, Germany, is the parent company of the international BRAIN Group, distributing speciality B2B products like enzymes or bioactive natural products.

The group supports the development of bio-based products and processes and has its own fermentation or production facilities in Germany, UK and the US.

Formo is a consumer-facing dairy company founded by Dr Britta Winterberg and Raffael Wohlgensinger in 2019.

The company aims to establish a more sustainable and ethical food system and bring the ‘next generation’​ of dairy products to consumers.

The start-up, formerly known as LegenDairy Foods, is Europe's first cellular agriculture company developing animal-free dairy products using real, nature-identical milk proteins derived from precision fermentation.

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