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The Dutch/Belgian company Those Vegan Cowboys (TVC) is awarding € 2.5 million for the perfect fungal culture to make vegan cream, milk and cheese, laboratory chief Will van den Tweel told during EFIB2020.
Editorial office / Ghent

TVC is looking for a fungus that efficiently produces milk proteins from grass. The fungus sought should already be known as (means of production for) food or food ingredients, preferably expressing heterologous proteins. A toolbox must also be available for molecular biology.

Those Vegan Cowboys is the new company of Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman of the Vegetarian Butcher, a company that successfully made vegetable meat substitutes for many years and was sold to Unilever last year. The new challenge that the entrepreneurs took on is to produce dairy products where fermentation takes place without cows, in a reactor vessel: The Stainless Steel Cow. Van den Tweel: “We call her Margareth, our iron lady.”

Dairy products are nutritious and consumed all over the world. Cheese is the most important milk product with a market value of USD 164 billion in 2023. However, dairy farming takes a long time. Worldwide there are 300 million dairy cows, each with the CO2 equivalent emissions of one and a half European cars. They also produce a lot of methane and nitrogen. That is why several entrepreneurs have focused on the vegan cheese market, which will reach a market size of 2.5 billion dollars by the end of 2020, according to Van den Tweel.

TVC works together with Wageningen University & Research and Ghent University.

EFIB 2020

EFIB is the leading European conference for industrial biotechnology. The conference is currently taking place digitally from 5 to 9 October 2020. For more information, see the EFIB website.

Image: Those Vegan Cowboys