Climax Foods Inc. has introduced a plant-based protein ingredient that it says replicates the functional performance, in particular the melt and stretch, of the dairy protein casein. The formulation process allows the company to produce this protein sustainably at scale, with price parity to traditional animal-based casein. The non-GMO casein alternative is free of hormones, antibiotics and the top eight allergens, according to the company
Climax Foods uses data science and AI to speed up the discovery of optimal ingredient and process combinations that harness the power of plants.
"While our work is based on a deep scientific understanding of plants, we don't have any need to genetically engineer plants to create our unique proteins," says Daniel Westcott, head of protein and texture at Climax Foods. "An immeasurable range of protein diversity and combinations already exists; we simply use data science and machine learning to pay very, very close attention. This gives us the ability to model and verify formulations at the microscopic level in a fraction of the time that it would take a traditional approach. And while we love learning through data science, we generate our data by making cheese, which means that the busiest half of our lab is the kitchen."
Bel Group's director of research and applications, Anne Pitkowski, says, "Caseins are involved in all dairy transformations including cheese, yogurt, cream and others. They are directly responsible for the product texture, stability and, moreover, bring the very unique property of stretchability. Those properties are linked to the specific micellar structure of the casein assemblage that, until Climax Foods' discovery, had not been met anywhere else in nature."
Though the company is starting with dairy products, Climax Foods says that its formulation process can eventually be applied to replace other animal-based foods.