Vegan cheese is hot (again), but will it meet success?

In a couple of weeks, many news regarding vegan cheese have popped up. After a series of significant deals in the US in late 2019, this domain continues to attract investors. Yet, doing plant-based cheese is far from a new thing (vegan cheese replacement have been distributed in many supermarkets across the US and Europe for years). However, the taste and feel of what is currently available is … not too cheesy and these products are often highly processed. What this new batch of products is trying to do is basically the same thing Beyond Meat, Just and Impossible Foods have done in the last ten years: make a plant-based substitute as good, as cheap, etc. as the original thing.

Three new products to taste

Here are three news about vegan startups that have decided to venture into vegan cheese :

1- Les Nouveaux affineurs, a French vegan cheese startup raises €2millions to develop its offering. While most startups in this area only focus on fresh spread cheese, they have one of the best-matured vegan cheese I had the opportunity to taste (most have a sour taste at best or are just unpalatable).

Affineurs dfl

2 – Noquo, a Swedish vegan cheese startup created in 2019, raised €3.25 to develop its range of plant-based products, starting with cheese.

3 – Tofurky, one of the early innovators in plant-based (since 1980 !) is well known for its meat replacements. It is launching a new brand, Moocho with a range of plant-based cheese.

Why does it matter?

Surprisingly, while we may think of cheese as something profoundly European (from the Greek feta to the Italian Mozzarella), the most developed ecosystem of innovation in this domain is in the US. Miyoko’s has already raised $12m and Kite Hill, $75.5m (for yogourts and cheese). Will the European startups be able to catch up on them? Competition is only starting here, with many plant-based dairy startups eying to this market after their success in milk and yogourt alternatives.

More than this competition, as we mentioned in this article about the crossed destiny of milk processors that went bankrupted when vegan milk startups raised hundreds of millions to grow, the dairy industry has been used for decades to run on low margins. Now, these new startups come with high-margin products and their development is a threat to a fragile industry.

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