December 18, 2023

Pt 24: Swinging doors open

Howdy y’all! Wranglin’ my fellow cheese lovers to share some excitin’ news this festive December season.

Those Vegan Cowboys are fixin’ to kick off their first investment round. Just cracked open the gate to a whole herd of green-minded folks lookin’ to lasso their dollars into our sustainable mission. And guess what, our postoffice just sent out a press release ridin’ high on all the mighty fine things we’re rustlin’ up in our mission to get all production animals out of the food chain, while eating delicious cheese. So saddle up, partners, and join this rodeo for a future that’s as merry and green as a Christmas tree outside on a December meadow. Let’s show ’em how us vegan cowboys rope in the goodness!

PRESS release: Those Vegan Cowboys open barn doors to investors

stainless steel cow cheese ready to scale up

Dutch/Belgian pioneers in precision fermentation made real cow-free casein – investors now invited to help build a stable for the stainless steel herd 

Ghent – The cow-free milk lab of Those Vegan Cowboys, founded by former Vegetarian Butchers Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman, has building plans. After the initial success in creating dairy-identical caseins by means of precision fermentation, the formerly self-made cowboy lab opens its doors to investors for the first time since the start in 2020. 15 million euro is to be raised for building a stable full of stainless steel cows. 

Milk proteins by Margaret, the iron lady
Earlier this year, Those Vegan Cowboys hit an essential milestone that could revolutionize the dairy industry. By feeding plant material to microbes instead of cows, their stainless steel cow called Margaret was successful in recreating casein: a protein formerly only found in mammal milk, the essential ingredient to make cheese cheesy. COO Will van den Tweel: “We gave ourselves 7 years to build Margaret. Today we are 4 years in, and she is a reality. She has already achieved the impossible: real casein, the most difficult and essential ingredient for cheese. It is now a matter of refining and upscaling. A feat we can only accomplish by building dedicated plants.” 

“We are confident enough to invite others along.”
The reason why no investors were attracted earlier is simple, says founder Jaap Korteweg: “My business partner Niko Koffeman and I had been talking about cow-free less cheese for years, and were told it had a 1% chance of success. After selling The Vegetarian Butcher to Unilever, we could take those odds and got a great team of scientists together in the milk lab in Ghent. We could afford to politely decline when investors offered to join. Now that we have the first kilos of cheese ripening, it’s time for a major scale up. It’s still an adventure of course, but of a different kind. One on which we’re confident enough to invite others along.” 

15 million euros for a herd of stainless steel cows
Having outgrown their lab facilities, funds are now raised to scale up. Simultaneously, Those Vegan Cowboys joined other European precision fermentation companies to spur on novel food legislation, a process that can take up to several years from start to finish. With both production facilities and paperwork in place, consumers will finally be able to taste the anticipated Margaret-made cheese. The details of the building plans are disclosed in a cowboy-style newspaper format, The Ghent Gazette, which can be downloaded on Those Vegan Cowboys’ website.

New perspective for grassland farmers
Building the new stable is a milestone worth celebrating for Those Vegan Cowboys, but to them, the cheese is just the first half of the challenge. With a 9th generation farmer as a founder, the Ghent lab is determined to use grass as the basis for fermentation – to offer dairy farmers an innovation that will help consolidate their business for generations to come.  

Founder Jaap Korteweg: “To us, dairy farmers will remain vital in the new way of cheese making. It can relieve dairy farmers from several heavy societal issues they’ve been burdened with. We can grow past the cow’s physical limitations in the healthiest way imaginable, and we can feed 5 times the number of people from the same amount of land. It would be great if seeing these cheeses would inspire farmers to see the stainless steel cow as a real option. We want to move forward together and are happy to already have many conversations ongoing. If this reaches any other farmers that would like to talk shop, feel free to reach out to us.” 

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