Fooditive’s mission is to change the opinion of consumers towards genetically modified organisms (GMOs), while encouraging the abandonment of animal agriculture.
One of the biggest hurdles for consumers wanting to adopt a vegan diet, suggested Moayad Abushokhedim, founder of the food scientist Fooditive, is in taste and texture.
“The reason a lot of people won’t go vegan is because [current alternatives] lack the taste and texture to which they are accustomed “, Abushokhedim, who is the CEO of Fooditive, told FoodNavigator.
“If we can provide this [taste and texture] by using our vegan casein we know very well that we will be encouraging a lot of [dairy consumers] become more vegan. We will encourage them to use more ingredients of plant origin.
Mimic dairy functionality
Fooditive is taking advantage of its unique fermentation process to develop casein powder which it hopes will be a game-changer in dairy alternatives. The company uses peas as a raw material. “The methodology is based on our unique fermentation ‘enzymology’ process, simply using microorganisms, sugars and nutrients. And since we wanted to keep the price of vegan casein affordable, we decided to use peas ”, said the CEO.
The key to producing vegan casein was first to understand the formula of conventional dairy products, the start-up explained.
“This helped the team recreate an animal-free version of milk casein, using fermentation and ensuring the process will be scalable for the food industry.”
Casein is made up of four main components: alpha-, beta, gamma- and kappa-casein. To start with, Fooditive focused on recreating β-casein, but after further research, the team found that it could create the same functionality for β-casein, -casein, -S1-. casein and α-S2-casein.
The ingredient will be the first vegan casein available for all applications in the food industry, from yogurt and creams to cheeses with melting characteristics, Fooditive continued.
Responding to the demand for milk, while eradicating the “drawbacks” of factory farming and concerns related to allergies to lactose, hormones and antibiotics, is the start-up’s primary objective. “We believe in producing slightly better milk protein for everyone”, said Abushokhedim.
Fooditive plans to launch its vegan casein on the market in 2022.
Changing the discourse around GMOs
The start-up’s new ingredient is based on GMO technology. Specifically, Fooditive relies on DNA-modified yeast, which the CEO explained is the “next step”.
The company is aware that GM has also been associated with negative consumer perceptions in Europe.
“We understand that the production of food grade genetically modified organisms is the subject of constant debate due to the combination of negative consumer perceptions and mistrust of conglomerates.
“Our goal is to change that by showing the food industry and end consumers an innovative approach to create sustainable products” said Niki Karatza, Fooditive product manager.
The regulatory system in Europe presents another challenge in marketing the new casein across the block.
“The regulation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is very strict when it comes to the marketing and marketing of a product like this”, Abushokhedim told this publication. “We must [conduct] numerous clinical studies to show… this product is safe for human consumption.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing how EFSA ensures food security, but at the same time, as a start-up, we can’t afford to do the intense research that they acquire. “
This may force Fooditive to look elsewhere outside of Europe for a first entry into the market.
“The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers an open guide to make it a bit easier to enter the market with such a product, with simpler scientific research requirements. ” we have been told.