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Unlocking the next-generation protein expression systems for animal-free cheese production

University of Kent

Project objectives

Concerningly, dairy production is one of the biggest methane emitters in the world. Animal-free alternatives for dairy products have the potential to reduce pollution by offering sustainable production practices. However, while plant-based alternatives for milk have nearly reached price, taste, and convenience parity to animal-derived milk, plant-based cheese still fails to offer an adequate consumer experience. While in principle precision fermentation offers a sustainable and ethical way of producing food proteins, to date no major alternative protein company has been able to offer affordable and scalable solutions to casein -- the main cheese protein -- production. We propose that even larger gains can be achieved by adopting unconventional yeast species that might be naturally more suitable for food production but currently lack the necessary genetic engineering tools. We aim to develop the next-generation microbial factories using unconventional microbial species.

Further details
Lead Researcher: Alessia Buscaino
Industry: Alternative proteins/meat & dairy substitutes
Industry partners: HERlab, High Efficiency Research Laboratory
Topic: Novel ingredients, Alternative proteins
Funded by: Innovate UK
Project start date: Sep-2023
Project end date: Feb-2025