Bel Group brings biomass fermentation cheese to market

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French cheese giant Bel, known for its global cheese brands Babybel, Laughing Cow, and Boursin, has entered into a partnership with US-based Superbrewed Food in an exclusive arrangement to develop dairy-free cheese made through biomass fermentation.

“Pursuing our mission to offer healthy snacks for all, Bel innovates to support the changes in nutritional needs and meet the challenges of a sustainable diet for an ever-growing world population,” Bel Group chief venture officer Caroline Sorlin said in a statement.

Bel, which recently launched vegan versions of its popular cheeses, says Superbrewed aligns with its goal of scaling up “its most promising technologies offering nutritional, environmental, and sensory advantages in its products for the benefit of people and the planet.”

The partnership will see Superbrewed’s ‘Postbiotic’ Cultured Protein developed for use under the Bel Group brand’s labels. The cultured biomass fermentation protein is made from microflora that converts plant fibres, according to Superbrewed. The protein contains all nine essential amino acids and is minimally processed. A 30-gram serving of the protein meets the US FDA requirements for a “good source” of five b vitamins, including B-12. It’s also rich in a range of minerals, including iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

“We’re honoured to partner with Bel Group to lead the industry in the application of highly scalable alternative proteins for cheese,” said Superbrewed Food CEO Bryan Tracy. “Given the global reach of their brands and inclusive “open collaboration” model, they are ideal partners for Superbrewed.”

Superbrewed Food was born out of Tracy’s interest in large herbivores including gorillas and cows. He discovered that one of the reasons these animals thrive on a plant-based diet was an active microbiome. 

“So, we said, ‘Well, why can’t we essentially take that out of the digestive system and do the same thing?’” Tracy added. “Find the protein specialists that can eat plant fibres — low-cost calories - feed that to a microorganism, have the microorganisms make incredibly nutritious protein. And that’s exactly what we’ve discovered inside of these microbiomes.”

The company was working in a stealth mode for several years before announcing it had made dairy-free milk and cheeses last year. It raised $45 million to develop its tech. Last year, it partnered with Acme-Hardesty to bring butyrate postbiotic supplements to the US and Canada.

Bel Group research and application director Anne Pitkowski says the cheese company is accelerating on its exploration into biomass fermentation because of its environmental, nutritional, and accessibility benefits, “without compromising on taste and pleasure.”


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