Danish start-up attempts to bridge the gap between cheese and plants

Can a cheese made with a blend of dairy and plant ingredients and promoted for lower CO2 emissions fare better than blended beverages promoted for taste and nutrition? Danish start-up PlanetDairy, founded by threee ex-Arla executives, thinks so.

As you can read in New Nutrition Business April 2024 many companies have tried to succeed with blended plant/dairy beverages over the past few years – and most have failed, even major players like Arla and Dairy Farmers of America. The format has simply failed to convince consumers, especially considering that the products tended to retail at a 20%-100% price premium compared to regular dairy milk and regular plant milk.

Aarhus, Denmark-based PlanetDairy hopes that things will be different for cheese – a category where it believes there is a bigger gap for a product that performs like the regular dairy product. And instead of relying on the tried and tested strategy of marketing the product for its nutrition, taste and digestibility, PlanetDairy is instead focusing primarily on the climate friendliness of its blended cheese, which it has branded Audu.

Introduced as “cheese with less CO2”, Audu by PlanetDairy’s range features 4 SKUs sold in a grated, sliced and block formats. The products are available in mainstream Danish retailers where the brand retails at the same price as sliced dairy cheese from Arla and at a 40% lower price than other branded products. It is even cheaper than some private label options.  

The cheese is made with at least 50% plants (mainly pea protein, potato starch and coconut oil), which the brand says leads to 40% less CO2e than traditional cheese. It illustrates this with graphs from independent CO2 calculations firm CarbonCloud.

100g of Audu sliced cheddar alternative delivers 22g of fat and 17 grams of protein – slightly lower than the 25g of fat and 24g of protein found in a full-dairy option from Arla. However, Audu’s protein profile is significantly better than plant-based cheeses on the market, which typically contain less than 0.5g of protein per 100g.

Audu by PlanetDairy is described as “an innovative bridge between cheese and plants” and consumers are encouraged to “take a bite that makes a difference”. And, realising that taste is king, marketing still includes a certain focus on taste with taglines like “the cheese taste you love – with less CO2”.

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