When Magi Richani began to shift to a plant-based diet five years ago, she faced a challenge common to people making a dietary move away from animal products: She didn’t want to give up cheese. “It was just so freaking hard,” she says. “I couldn’t find anything out there that would satisfy that bite of cheese on a pizza, or in a grilled cheese sandwich. And I tried every single plant-based cheese out there.”
Richani, who had discovered that she was lactose intolerant and then started researching some of the broader issues in the food system, was so motivated to find a better plant-based cheese that she left her job as a project engineer at Shell to work on the problem. “It was a little bit selfish,” she says. “I wanted a product that I could eat without feeling like I’m sacrificing.”
Her startup, Nobell Foods, announced a $75 million Series B round of funding as it launched out of stealth today, backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and other investors on July 21. In total, it has raised $100 million so far. For more than four years, the company has pioneered a new way to make dairy products from plants. The key lies in casein, a protein unique to milk, which the startup now grows in soybeans.
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