New Culture, an animal-free ingredients company based in San Leandro, California, has secured an unspecified amount of investment capital from CJ CheilJedang. The $23 billion Korean conglomerate ranks as the world’s leading supplier of fermentation based bio-products, and claims a 25% market share of the United States frozen pizza market. The investment will go towards product development and scale-up of New Culture’s animal-free mozzarella, which is slated to launch in pizzerias in 2023.
Global sales for frozen pizza was more than $16 billion in 2020 and is projected to top $23 billion by 2027.
Using precision fermentation and traditional cheese making techniques, the company produces casein, a protein that coagulates and produces animal-free cheese that melts, stretches and bubbles just like conventional dairy cheese.
“CJ CheilJedang has invaluable experience and connections in the food and pizza industries that will provide us with pivotal scale-up momentum as we push forward our go-to-market strategy,” said Matt Gibson, co-founder and chief executive officer of New Culture.
Headquartered in Seoul, CJ CheilJedang has more than 60 years’ of experience in fermentation technology, advancing proprietary amino acids for feed and food, savory flavors and seasoning materials, and plant based protein ingredients. It acquired Marshall, Minnesota-headquartered Schwan’s, the second-largest player in the US frozen food market, in 2019. Among Schwan’s popular retail frozen food brands is Red Baron pizza.
“The partnership with New Culture reinforces our alternative protein investment strategy, and underscores the overwhelming demand for animal-free ingredients across the industry, said Yunil Hwang, chief executive officer for the Bio Business unit of CJ CheilJedang. “New Culture’s animal-free mozzarella will usher in a new era of bio-based innovations in the dairy category.”
In November of 2021, New Culture announced a $25 million Series A funding round. Its investors include Kraft Heinz and ADM as well as a number of leading venture capital firms.