Peas to Please: UK Researchers Revolutionise Plant-Based Cheese Production

In a groundbreaking venture driven by innovation and sustainability, researchers from the University of Nottingham and their spin-out company, The Good Pulse Company, are spearheading the development of a revolutionary plant-based cheese made from yellow peas grown right here in the United Kingdom

Their ambitious project, aptly named ‘Cheese from Peas,’ has recently received a substantial financial boost, exceeding £300,000, from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. This funding adds to the already substantial support provided by Rothamsted Research and Big Idea Ventures, totaling over £670,000. 

What’s more, with this significant investment, the team is poised to take plant-based cheese to new heights.

Innovate UK Funds a Plant-Based Cheese Revolution

This collaborative effort, made possible by a strategic partnership between academia and industry, aims to craft a plant-based cheese that not only tantalises taste buds but also boasts superior nutritional value and sustainability

At the helm of this mission is an Assistant Professor in Food Structure and Processing at the University of Nottingham, who leads a dedicated team exploring innovative techniques to harness the potential of legumes, particularly yellow peas, to create a healthier and protein-rich alternative to conventional cheeses.

Yellow peas have emerged as the star ingredient due to their impeccable composition and local availability. The researchers are pioneering techniques to process these peas on a commercial scale with minimal intervention, ensuring the end product remains as close to nature as possible. 

Furthermore, this pursuit aligns perfectly with their goal of delivering healthy, sustainable products manufactured using crops grown right here in the UK.

Yellow Peas: A Nutritional Powerhouse

Yellow peas, traditionally used in soups, stews, and casseroles, pack a nutritional punch, boasting high-quality protein and a rich source of iron

What sets them apart is their pea protein content, which contains essential amino acids vital for human health, with the potential benefits of this novel approach extending beyond taste and nutrition. 

Moreover, it signifies a crucial step toward reinforcing the UK’s pulse crop industry and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

The Good Pulse Company’s Pioneering Journey

The Good Pulse Company, a driving force behind this initiative, has already crafted over 100 prototypes of plant-based cheese using their proprietary technology and processes. Their journey has also taken them into the realm of naturally gluten-free baked goods, enriched with high-protein pulses. 

In addition to their recent funding success, they have earned their place in the prestigious EIT Food Seedbed programme, secured a significant collaboration agreement with a leading European dairy cheese company, filed their first patent in the USA, and demonstrated the scalability of their technology and processes across various pulses and food applications.

A Visionary CEO Leading the Charge

The Founder & CEO of The Good Pulse Company, an alumnus of Exeter Business School‘s MBA program, emphasised the urgent need to revolutionise the plant-based cheese market. 

They pointed out that many existing vegan cheeses are highly processed, nutritionally lacking, and rely heavily on coconut oil, modified starches, and artificial additives. Therefore, their company is addressing these shortcomings head-on by developing pulse-based ingredients tailored specifically for plant-based cheese. 

Furthermore, they are committed to strengthening the local pulse supply chain and fostering positive social impacts on farming communities.

Academic and Business Collaboration and Working Towards a Brighter, Sustainable Tomorrow

The Business School at the University of Nottingham has played a pivotal role in supporting The Good Pulse Company’s business development journey. Through a series of MBA consultancy projects and internship opportunities, the university has provided invaluable insights and expertise to fuel this groundbreaking endeavour.

Creating new food products is undoubtedly a formidable challenge in an exceedingly competitive market. However, The Good Pulse Company and their collaborators firmly believe that their unique ingredients and innovative technology will set their plant-based cheese products apart. 

With the support of industry partners and substantial funding, they are determined to accelerate their research and bring a commercial product to market within the next 12 months. To facilitate this ambitious endeavour, the company will initiate its next investment round in early January 2024.

Conclusion: A Taste of the Future

In a world where sustainability and taste converge, ‘Cheese from Peas’ represents a promising leap forward. As these visionaries work tirelessly to rewrite the narrative of plant-based cheese, they offer a tantalising glimpse into a future where culinary excellence meets ethical responsibility

With every bite of ‘Cheese from Peas,’ consumers may savour not only the delectable flavours but also the taste of a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow. 

Furthermore, this innovative project serves as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to forging a path toward a greener, more flavorful future.

News Credits: Funding boost for plant-based ‘Cheese from Peas’ to develop commercial processes

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