French cheese maker Bel Group has announced a partnership with biotech start-up Climax Foods Inc. to develop plant-based cheese for its Laughing Cow, Kiri, Boursin, Babybel and Nurishh brands.
It aims to launch these new plant-based products in the US and Europe by the end of 2024.
The initiative will help Bel Group in balancing its portfolio, with the group seeking to offer 50% dairy products and 50% plant-based products.
Bel has also acquired an equity stake in Climax Foods to support the development of the latter's solutions.
"Food is a key lever to address climate change, and we, at Bel, have a strong determination to explore new territories and develop innovative solutions that will define the future of food, for all," commented Cécile Béliot, CEO of the Bel Group.
"The products we will develop in partnership with Climax have the potential to make a big difference: they can meet the three-fold challenge of sustainable, nutritious, and accessible. This collaboration epitomises our co-innovation strategy by combining their distinctive technological data science and AI platforms and expertise with Bel's pioneering and historical knowledge."
The partners said in a statement that they will leverage the power of data science and artificial intelligence (AI), along with their complementary capabilities and expertise to create plant-based cheese.
These products seek to offer nutritious, affordable, low carbon footprint and indistinguishable alternatives to their dairy-based counterparts.
Predictive analytics and AI will enable Climax Foods to explore animal-based foods at the molecular level and leverage this knowledge to develop plant-based versions that match their texture, flavour, and nutrition density.
AI-powered product development at Climax Foods will significantly reduce the time required to create plant-based recipes by scaling up quickly and effectively.
Dr Oliver Zahn, CEO and founder of Climax Foods Inc., added, "AI and data can be game changers in food in terms of delivering optimal taste and texture while at the same time making it affordable and sustainable. Evolving recipes over time is what we've been doing for hundreds of years.
"In addition to changing consumer preferences, climate change requires us to accelerate the evolution of food. Together with Bel, we can make a significant positive impact so that people and the planet are better off."
Read More: Plant-Based Food Alternatives Becoming More Mainstream, Notes FMCG Gurus
Climax Food's team of food scientists have already created various prototypes with all the characteristics of specialty cheeses, including blue, brie, feta, and goat varieties, Bel Group noted.
Bel's expertise and innovation capabilities, both in dairy cheese and non-dairy alternatives, and its reach in various markets will make this new range of cheese accessible to all through its brands.
Caroline Sorlin, chief venture officer of Bel, said, "Our group has always distinguished itself in its ability to dare and change the game with its innovative products.
"The challenge of the food transition is so big that collaborative innovation and the merging of skills is imperative. This partnership is definitely a source of pride, but above all, it is excellent news for the plant-based cheese market."
© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest A-Brands news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.