'Tasty' zero-dairy cheese employs cutting-edge technology that only needs oxygen and water

Around 68 percent of all humans on the planet have a reduced ability to digest lactose.
Sade Agard
Almond is an ingredient in the novel cheese slices
Almond is an ingredient in the novel cheese slices

iascic/iStock 

Food technology company Armored Fresh participated in CES 2023 in Las Vegas, USA, the largest consumer electronics exhibition in the world. It unveiled a brand-new product called "Almond Milk American Slices."

The company offers an innovative technological process that can replicate animal proteins such as casein using only plant-based ingredients. The cheese's ability to melt, one of the significant challenges confronting the plant-based cheese tech sector, is among the components that make Armored Fresh's approach stand out.

Only requiring water and oxygen, the tech behind its various dairy-free products has attracted much attention. To dig a little deeper, Interesting Engineering (IE) visited Daniel Yang at the event, one of Armored Fresh's representatives.

Could you explain what Armored Fresh cheese is?

Armored Fresh cheese is almond milk-based cheese. We currently have two different kinds of cheese for snacks. 

But we also have sliced cheese that can go on sandwiches and hamburgers. Our cheese is completely zero-dairy, zero-soy, and non-GMO (genetically modified organism). And it's zero cholesterol as well, too, so it's great for anyone that's looking for tasty cheese or a healthy alternative. 

How is Armored Fresh cheese made? What's the food technology behind all of this?

We have proprietary technology in terms of our formulation and big data analytics, but what's crazy about our technology and our compound mix is that we can go into any manufacturing plant that's already doing dairy cheese processing. 

We can go into those factories and use the same machines and have our product as well. The only difference is that we have our compound and all our key mixes, which replace animal products with plant-based ones. 

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Our overhead cost is significantly lower. We don't require specialized equipment or training, which is great in terms of scalability. Our capacity is much greater than most other companies out there.

Besides Armored Fresh cheese providing an option for lactose-intolerant people, are there any other benefits for opting for this?

We've realized that the taste is lacking in the plant-based cheese world. And so it's hard to compete with the dairy world. But we decided to prioritize taste.

Then we've also realized that 68 percent of the world population is lactose intolerant. So that means we have to provide an alternative choice for the population that can't just enjoy dairy cheese. And so we wanted to offer that option with our technology and our products. 

We are working on a formulation where our nutritional value will increase so that we can replicate what the dairy cheese offers. But we can also input, or inject, into the mix more nutritional value to have greater values of probiotic protein and vitamins. So we can go into the mature nutraceutical aspect of things with cheese.

Additionally, unlike other dairy alternatives, our cheese melts perfectly. It really does. And then we're able to get that texture too.

Assuming it doesn't require as much maintenance as dairy cheese, could something like this help tackle food insecurity? Or any other significant issues?

It does have to be refrigerated in terms of shelf life. It's not shelf stable. But in terms of refrigeration, we're on par regarding the expiration date with other cheese brands out there. 

However, the sustainability aspect of things is definitely beneficial. We're trying to replace dairy completely just because of its impact on the environment. It's not sustainable. 

After production, what time period do you have to consume it? 

After production, it has a nine-month shelf life. But we have mozzarella coming out later, and we're looking at a one-year shelf life.