General Mills has pulled the plug on its animal-free dairy brand Bold Cultr (cream cheese featuring whey protein made by microbes, not cows, via precision fermentation).
Developed by General Mills’ corporate venture studio G-Works and launched in a handful of stores in Minnesota in late 2021, Bold Cultr is one of a flurry of brands launched by food industry giants over the past couple of years to test the animal-free dairy concept.
Other examples include Cowabunga from Nestlé, CO2COA from Mars, and Nurishh from Bel Brands, with Unilever also planning a move into the space.
General Mills told reporters in late January that it was expanding its small-scale trial to additional stores in Minnesota and launching a direct-to-consumer website allowing for national distribution.
In a note on its website released Monday February 27, however, the consumer goods giant said it had made the “difficult decision” to close Bold Cultr down: “G-Works regularly reviews its innovation portfolio and evaluates investment decisions. Recently, the difficult decision was made to deprioritize funding for Bold Cultr.”
AFN has reached out for additional comment from General Mills and Remilk (the Israeli startup supplying the animal-free whey protein used in Bold Cultr).
“Dear fans and customers, with a heavy heart, we want to let you know that we are closing our doors starting February 27, 2023. Bold Cultr was a unique startup brand by G-Works, General Mills’ corporate venture studio, which deploys small teams to solve food-related consumer problems through innovation — testing and learning along the way. G-Works regularly reviews its innovation portfolio and evaluates investment decisions. Recently, the difficult decision was made to deprioritize funding for Bold Cultr. ” General Mills
Animal-free dairy: Test and learn
Speaking at the recent Fermentation-Enabled Alternative Proteins event in San Francisco, Mars’ plant sciences director Carl Jones said Mars was still in test-and-learn mode with animal-free dairy.
Initial feedback for CO2COA—a chocolate brand launched by Mars last summer featuring animal-free whey from Perfect Day—suggested the ‘animal-free’ message resonated more than the environmental message Mars was also attempting to communicate, said Jones.
The name—CO2COA—had also confused some shoppers, who didn’t know how to pronounce it, and weren’t clear how it connected to the messaging on the front of the pack (‘designed with sustainability in mind’), said Jones: “We’re still evaluating and learning.”
At the time of launch, Chris Rowe, global VP of R&D at Mars Wrigley, said Mars believed there was a “sizable consumer opportunity in this space going forward.”
We will update this article as the story progresses.
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