Theory of Change: How Change Foods is melting the cheese market as we know it

How Change Foods is reducing the negative environmental and welfare impacts associated with cheese
August 17, 2022
Giant Leap

In the Theory of Change series, we break down Giant Leap’s impact thesis for each investment: how we think they’re blazing trails in tackling our most pressing problems. Check out our Starter Guide to Theory of Change for more context.

Change Foods is an alternative proteins company that will produce nutritionally and functionally equivalent cheese products made using precision fermentation. 

The key issue Change Foods is solving is a lack of sustainable pathways to feed an ever growing population, given the ongoing climate crisis. To do this, Change Foods is creating real dairy foods that will taste amazing, nourish people and sustain the planet. Most importantly, they achieve this by using the magic of microbes instead of animals!

If you’ve ever tried to go vegan but never been able to cut out cheese, you understand why this is such a vital problem to solve - it's the last frontier and something that hasn’t been able to be replicated to date. Luckily, Change Foods is on the case. 

“I worked in the aerospace industry until about 6 years ago when I changed my personal diet. I really made the connection between how our food is produced and looking at new ways to create protein effectively. Over the next 20 years we have to double the protein that we are producing and, when I look systematically at animal agriculture, it is just so inefficient and ripe for disruption.” - David Bucca

Here are some of the fundamental problems they are solving:

Feeding more with less

Leading experts predict the need to feed an additional 2 billion people globally by 2050. Feeding a growing population within the environmental limits of our planet will be one of the key challenges of this generation. 

Change Foods doesn’t need to wait the two to three years it takes to rear a cow before they can produce cheese.

Fixing food's downward spiral

Due to the degrading effects of climate change, we will have just one third of the arable land available compared to 1970 if current trends persist. In a self-fulfilling cycle, agriculture is one of the primary culprits of climate change, contributing 24% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and damaging biodiversity with fertilisers and pesticides that accelerate the downward spiral. This highlights the need for solutions that both reduce carbon intensity of food production and enable more efficient use of water and arable land. If we fail to decarbonize the food system, experts believe it will be nearly impossible to meet the Paris Accords 1.5 degree Celsius target in an effort to prevent irreversible climate change.

Change Food’s precision fermentation cheese technology consumes up to 5x less energy and 10x less water on 100x less land and 25x less feedstock.

De-guilting cheese

Dairy production is hugely carbon intensive, producing 3% of all Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Meanwhile, cheese as a subsegment is one of the largest food-based sources of GHG, behind only red meats. Critical also to consider are welfare issues that affect cows and calves involved in dairy production, relating to cow-calf separation and painful procedures or conditions (such as lameness and mastitis in cows).

Change Foods makes cheese without cows, so there are no animal welfare concerns associated with the production, along with the significant potential for reduction in GHG emissions!

Pricing and scale

The most pressing question ahead for Change Foods, and all participants in Precision Fermentation foods, is the ability to successfully scale production and in doing so to cost-reduce over time. The goal is  to achieve pricing that is comparable to premium branded items consumers purchase now. This will require significant added investment to create the manufacturing infrastructure needed to make these products at sufficient volume and to bring input costs down.

Giant Leap’s impact thesis

Giant Leap’s Theory of Change for our investment in Change Foods

If Giant Leap supports Change Foods with values-aligned capital, then Change Foods will be able to capture market share from animal-based cheeses and ultimately reduce the carbon, water, and land intensity of the dairy industry.

Impact metrics 

  • Carbon emissions avoided
  • Water use avoided


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