Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Harnessing the power of machine learning to make vegan cheese

Post Thumbnail

US-based startup Climax makes vegan cheese with recipes developed by using machine learning. Its technology finds out at the molecular level what makes animal-based foods so loved by consumers, then comes up with plant-based ingredients to replicate them.

  • Climax is launching its first “zero-compromise” plant-based products to select audiences in the US and is launching production facilities for early 2023.
  • The startup uses machine learning to find recipes for vegan cheese that make it taste like the real thing.
  • There is a strong appetite for plant-based products that appeal to people who eat dairy and meat, but are looking to reduce the environmental impact of their diets.

Climax to launch new products

The company has announced the introduction of its first “zero-compromise” plant-based products to select audiences in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, following two years of research and development. It is also building a production hub for its cheeses and a pilot plant for proprietary ingredients in Petaluma, California, earmarked to open in early 2023. Distribution partners are expected to be announced “soon”.

Climax’s ‘moonshot products’ – cultured and aged Blue, Brie, Feta and Chèvre cheeses – are designed to use sustainably grown plant ingredients while matching the taste, nutrition, and price of dairy cheeses.

“We started from a profound appreciation for the complex flavors and textures of dairy products,” said founder and chief executive Dr Oliver Zahn. “Cows have made our milk for thousands of years. However, less than 10% of the plants they eat get turned into food for humans, which has led to significant environmental and health problems in today’s much more crowded world.” 

He added: “It is human nature to rethink ancient practices, so we came up with a smarter way. By using data science to accelerate plant-based ingredient and process discoveries, we are saving thousands of years of tinkering to create products that are just as tasty as the cow-based predecessors without the downsides, today.”

How is the cheese made?

Climax’s team of 40 scientists have combined molecular-level learnings about animal products with proprietary plant ingredient functionality databases, in order to come up with optimal ‘digital recipes’ from ingredients selected from thousands of edible plants. They use machine learning frameworks to find out at the molecular level what makes animal-based foods so loved by mass consumers.

Once they are figured out, Climax’s technology comes up with combinations of plant-based ingredients that can be optimised to produce alternatives that taste and feel exactly like animal-based products. The startup claims that this solution is more sustainable and cheaper than plant-based alternatives currently on the market, as its technology can sift through thousands of ingredients to find the most convenient ones. 

The products are made with non-allergenic ingredients such as seeds, legumes and plant oils. They are also free of nuts, cholesterol, and GMO ingredients. 

Zahn continued: “Our technology and ingredient discoveries will soon power the replacements of bigger categories with successors that will be equally delicious and nutritious but more sustainable and – because our products are not heavily processed – substantially more economical and environmentally friendly.”

Making plant-based food appealing to all

Even though more people are becoming aware of the effects of the dairy industry on the environment, not everyone is willing or has the opportunity to remove cheese and milk from their diets. It is estimated that there are 270 million dairy cows producing milk on the planet, part of an $827 billion industry that is a source of livelihood for millions of people worldwide.

It comes, however, with a variety of social and environmental impacts, depending on how they are farmed and fed as well as how the products are treated. For example, dairy cattle generate greenhouse gases through enteric and waste fermentation as well as excreting nitrogen emissions through their faeces and urine. The livestock sector as a whole has a huge significance on the carbon budget: according to 2013 estimates, it is responsible for 14.5% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Switching to plant-dairy alternatives could represent a solution to address this issue, while opening up new markets and new business opportunities for innovative projects. Taste and price, however, must reach parity with traditional dairy products to convince consumers to make the change: analysis by UBS found taste is the main hurdle in the wide adoption of plant-based alternatives.

If Climax’s ‘fake’ Blue, Brie, Feta and Chèvre cheeses really do taste like the real thing, the company is set to tap a huge opportunity amid strong demand for more sustainable food products.

More from SG Voice

Latest Posts