New York-based biotech company Pureture has formulated vegan casein using yeast-based traditional fermentation. The company told Green Queen that its tasteless and odourless plant-based milk protein – designed for alt-dairy products – can be supplied at a lower price than its conventional counterpart.
Founded in October 2022, Pureture (formerly Armored Fresh Technologies) was rebranded in May this year to separate it from the South Korean plant-based dairy brand Armored Fresh (both companies were founded by Rudy Yoo).
Pureture, a portmanteau of ‘pure’ and ‘future’, has developed a plant-based casein formulation via a traditional liquid fermentation process – which means it doesn’t have to pass any regulatory steps to enter the market. It emulsifies yeast and blends it with vegan ingredients (avoiding any GMOs) to manufacture the protein.
How Pureture makes its vegan casein
Casein is a key component in conventional dairy products, creating a stable emulsion and preventing fat and water from separating to give milk its smooth texture. These binding elements are also responsible for the meltability and stretchability of cheese, which are often missing in vegan cheese. Pureture says its plant-based casein replicates all these functions, calling it cleaner than other alternatives as it eliminates the need for starches, gums, and emulsifiers.
Speaking to Green Queen, a spokesperson for the brand explained that the casein undergoes a six-step process. It begins with the cultivation of a yeast strain, which then goes through an enrichment stage. This is followed by a separation of the protein, and a test of the emulsification functionality. Then, the protein is sterilised, before finally being dried to get it ready for use.
For the seed cultivation, Pureture has one 50-litre fermentation tank, while the first cultivation has three 500-litre tanks. For the second cultivation process, the company has three 30,000-litre tanks, and it explains that these make it possible to produce 200 tons of protein per month. This maxes out to 2,400 tons of vegan casein annually.
A plant-based protein cheaper than conventional casein
Pureture also says its proprietary tech and manufacturing process has allowed it to price the casein at a lower rate than the market average. “The biggest factor is that the yeast protein we developed uses a self-selected yeast strain,” the brand’s spokesperson told Green Queen. “In addition, the yeast strain is very advantageous in terms of production costs due to its high efficiency in producing proteins, because it has a high protein production ability and has very good growth and development.”
They added: “The second reason is that the entire process of yeast fermentation, protein recovery and emulsification is carried out continuously – so it can be supplied at a price between 20% and 30% lower than the existing dairy ingredients in terms of production costs.”
Pureture is aiming to collaborate with major dairy companies to co-brand its plant-based casein, and with global ingredients vendors to expand its use. Helping businesses transition to vegan casein includes “revolutionising label transparency,” the brand says, stressing that clean labels with unadulterated plant proteins are the future of food.
“We are on a mission to build a [purer] world and safer future for all consumers and environment,” the spokesperson said. This was reiterated by founder Yoo: “At Pureture, we’re laser-focused on developing materials and technologies for essential food changes that will provide us with a richer and long-lasting food culture.
“With this new innovation, we’re thrilled to introduce a product that ensures the joy of dairy flavour and texture remains, while delivering a cleaner label and contributing to a more sustainable future,” he adds. Pureture confirmed that it has already collaborated with Yoo’s aforementioned Armored Fresh brand.
Vegan casein developments
This news follows the announcement earlier this month by fellow US brand New Culture that it has successfully scaled up its precision-fermented casein to produce 25,000 pizzas’ worth of cheese per batch. And in June, another US company, Climax Foods, debuted what it claimed to be the world’s first plant-based casein protein.
While many producers focus on whey protein, it has its limitations. New Culture co-founder Matt Gibson told FoodNavigator in 2021 that whey “only makes limited cheeses” like ricotta and cream cheese, while casein allows you to make any kind of cheese with traditional cheesemaking processes.
Other companies working on precision-fermented casein include US-based Change Foods, Austrian startup Fermify, India’s Zero Cow Factory, and Paris-based Standing Ovation. Meanwhile, US brand Nobell Foods makes soy-derived casein using molecular farming.
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