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CPGInnovation of the WeekStartupsFebruary 18, 20220Innovation of the Week – February 18, 2022

by Brooke Bender

Change Foods – CPG

What it is: 

Change Foods plans to offer a range of plant-based cheeses that have the taste, stretch, and melt of a dairy-based cheese.  The company uses microbes (like yeast) and encodes them with dairy protein DNA sequences.  Next, they are placed in a fermentation tank.  During fermentation, the microbes produce proteins identical to those found in dairy milk.  This precision fermentation method creates real dairy proteins, fats, and flavors.  From there, the company uses traditional cheesemaking techniques to create their products.  These plant-based cheeses contain all the protein and calcium that dairy cheese would, without the cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics. 

Change Foods plans to launch commercial products in the U.S. market in 2023.  According to a Food Navigator article, founder and CEO David Bucca says, “we want to go to market first in the U.S., in part because it’s a huge market, but also because the regulatory environment is a lot further progressed for the approval of these compounds for food.”

Who Made It? 

Change Foods was founded in 2019 by CEO David Bucca.  Bucca is a former aerospace engineer.  He worked in a variety of technical and senior management roles at Boeing for over 13 years.  He made a career change that was motivated by his desire for more sustainable, ethical, and innovative food systems.  He became a founding director of Food Frontier in early 2017, which is a non-profit think-tank and industry accelerator for alternative proteins.  He currently sits as a board member at Food Frontier.  He has also held a COO position at an Australian hemp foods startup, and just prior to founding Change Foods, he was a Regional Manager for Hungry Planet, a plant-based meat company in the U.S. 

His team at Change Foods consists of scientists and food industry veterans, with split headquarters in Australia and the U.S.

Funding status: 

  • Most recently, the company raised $14.6M of seed funding in a deal led by Route 66 Ventures on February 15, 2022.  Upfield, Orkla, Blue Horizon Corporation, Better Bite Ventures, Clear Current Capital, Plug and Play Tech Center, Jeff Dean, Canaccord Genuity, Gerber-Rauth, EGR Partners, Jiangmen Ventures, Green Generation Fund, Chris Smalling and other undisclosed investors also participated in the round. 
  • Another $500,000 was raised in the form of convertible debt and subsequently got converted into equity. The funding will be used to fuel its expansion in the San Francisco Bay Area and advance its research and development 
  • The company raised $875,000 of seed funding on October 30, 2020 
  • The company raised $125,000 of angel funding from 7 individual investors on July 1, 2020 

Why we like it: 

  • Most plant-based cheeses don’t have the melt and stretch qualities that dairy-based cheeses do – this brand claims their product solves this 
  • Novel production process using microbes encoded with dairy protein DNA sequences 
  • One of their investors is renowned American computer scientist Jeff Dean, the current head of Google’s AI division 
  • Major backing pre-U.S. product launch.  We’ll be eagerly watching to see what happens with this brand.

Did you know?  

According to a Grand View Research market analysis report released in February 2022, the global vegan cheese market size was valued at $2.43Bn in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6% from 2022 to 2030. Increasing acceptance of veganism, especially among millennials, has been fueling market growth. 


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