The Future Dairy from Berlin

I joined Formo because of my strong belief in the mission and ability of the team to create a better world by bringing the future of food to life — to look at how we might use our collective skills, courage and creativity to solve some of the most real and present problems facing humanity.

To me, the single biggest factor impacting human life on earth today is food. What we eat (and the entire system around it) affects the planet, environment, animals, society, and also our health.

However you look at it, the food system is one of the most fundamental effectors of our quality of life and measure of stability. It nourishes each of us every day: providing enjoyment, connection, indulgence and adventure, but also nutrition, sustenance, fuel, survival. It is omnipresent when we talk about health, wellbeing, and culture.

However you look at it, the food system is one of the most fundamental effectors of our quality of life and measure of stability.

But for such a crucial backbone of shared society, it is so often fatally out of balance.

High quality food isn’t available everywhere or to everyone; industrialising the food system has led to massive environmental damage (through carbon emissions, deforestation, nitrate run-offs), and increased waste at all parts of the journey from farm to plate. Animal-based aspects of the industrialised food-system also raise troubling practices from an animal welfare perspective including antibiotic overuse, poor living conditions, and unsavoury practices.

Ultimately, we are harming our own health with this system — from consumption of plastic, hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol, and nitrates in our food to an imbalance in diet due to over-consumption of animal-based products.

So if this food system can be so damaging, why don’t we just stop eating dairy?

So if this food system can be so damaging, why don’t we just stop eating dairy? Why is the consumption of animal-based products increasing as a whole? It is because we aren’t uniquely rational beings: we form strong memories, bonds, emotions with eating. It’s the feeling of hedonism and indulgence, consolation or comfort which keep us coming back. It’s the smell, the texture, the taste.

At the moment, we don’t believe there is a perfect product which balances environmental and social footprint with emotion and hedonism. That’s where we come in.

We call ourselves the Future Dairy from Berlin, and we’re here to bring the future of food to life through science, cheese and conversation.

We call ourselves the Future Dairy from Berlin, and we’re here to bring the future of food to life through science, cheese and conversation.

The core of our practice is to produce dairy products people will try, recognise, and fall in love with — but in a new and superior way. A way that leverages advances in technology to be more sustainable, more delicious, and more healthy.

An advantage of the way in which we create products (through precision fermentation, instead of raising cows) is that we can create a whole new space and a new generation of products which challenge expectations of what we all understand by ‘dairy products’.

We could avoid allergies, improve nutritional value, personalise completely, and create delicious cheese alternatives anywhere on the planet without the need for intensive cattle cultivation. We can innovate totally new cheeses, enhance characteristics of the flavours and qualities we know and love, and improve the accessibility of high quality protein and nutrition for everyone, sustainably.

Beyond just creating deliciously high-tech cheeses, we also need to move the conversation around food systems forward...

Beyond just creating deliciously high-tech cheeses, we also need to move the conversation around food systems forward — to keep the topic at front-of-mind, have a role in shaping better policy and improving public perception of a new food creation system, as well as how that vision can result in a happier and healthier world.

It’s a bold vision, but how do we make it real?

To deliver on that promise at speed (and so that we can start to quantify and track the change we’re making) we’ve given ourselves an ambitious target to meet: we want to replace 10% of Dairy products in Europe by 2030.

Replacing that 10% of Dairy with Formo’s vegan products could mean happier cows, more forest preserved, fewer CO₂ emissions, a healthier alternative; while still retaining the indulgence, emotion, memories and experience of traditional dairy.

We see it as fermenting a happier and healthier planet, and that’s what it means to be Formo,  The Future Dairy from Berlin.

Roman Plewka is CFO at Formo (formerly LegenDairy Foods) and this article is one part of a series exploring the future of dairy through the lens of Formo's DNA.

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