Change Foods has signed an agreement with KEZAD Group to design a dedicated commercial manufacturing plant to produce its animal-free dairy in Abu Dhabi, with the support of the Ministry of Economy of the UAE under the NextGen FDI initiative. The company also shared it is in the final stages of closing a bridge funding round.
The planned facility will be the first in the region to produce animal-free milk protein, casein, the main ingredient in cheesemaking. Change Foods' casein is bioidentical to the traditional dairy version but will be entirely animal-free -- thus made with a fraction of the environmental impact of animal-derived dairy. The facility's strategic location with multimodal connectivity would also provide a shipping and distribution network to serve the rapidly growing Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.
"We are honored to be a part of the UAE's NextGen FDI initiative and grateful for the strategic partnership with KEZAD Group," said David Bucca, Founder and CEO of Change Foods. "NextGen FDI is prioritizing successful scaling of new sustainable food technologies like ours that offer significant environmental and economic development benefits. The strategic alignment behind our company's vision to help transition the world to more sustainable food systems by scaling new food production technology was clear from the start."
Change Foods is pioneering precision fermentation technology that integrates centuries-old fermentation techniques with the latest bioengineering tools. The milk proteins produced via precision fermentation are identical to those made by cows, so the resulting cheese retains its authentic texture, taste, stretch and melting characteristics of traditional dairy cheese.
Change Foods is focused primarily on the growing cheese industry, an $83 billion global food category and one of the world's most popular foods. "Raising animals for food is an inefficient and resource-intensive process that materially contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions," said Bucca, "We think we can be an influence of positive transformation for this dynamic and growing industry. This will be a stellar example of how embracing new technologies can help us overcome regional food security challenges."
With this announcement, the UAE continues its foray into the world food innovation stage. The government will showcase its commitment in 2024 when Dubai hosts COP28, the United Nations' Climate Change Conference. The UN is working to galvanize global action and establish policies and investments to actively support decarbonization of energy and agricultural sectors to limit the planet warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in accordance with the Paris Agreement.