Iron Man invests in cheesier vegan cheese startup


In California, vegan cheese startup Nobell Foods has raised $75 million to tackle perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to adopting a vegan diet: creating a stretchy alternative to cheese. 

The key to gooey, cheesy goodness lies in casein, a protein found in dairy products that provides that super satisfying stretch when you separate a grilled cheese into two halves or lift a slice of melty pizza from the pan. Nobell Foods has engineered soybeans to produce casein, eliminating the need for cows. 

“As I began researching cheese, I learned that unique proteins found in cow’s milk make cheese cheese,” says Nobell founder Magi Richani.  “They’re what give cheese its ability to melt and stretch, be grated and taste so good. If I wanted to create cheese without cows, I had to somehow create those proteins but without cow’s milk.”

The Series B funding was led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Footprint Coalition, which was founded by Iron Man-star Robert Downey Junior, also participated. To date, Nobell has raised $100 million. 

Nobell plans to launch mozzarella and cheddar first, and hopes to have product in the market by late 2022/early 2023. “[Cheddar and mozzarella] make up 60% of the cheese consumed in the US. To have the biggest impact, we know we must go after the largest market opportunities,” the company says.