Thai Startup Launches Healthier, Tastier Vegan Cheese

Plant-based diets are becoming more popular; but cheese alternatives are limited.

Trumpkin has developed a cheese alternative from pumpkin seeds which contains healthy fats and minerals, as well as provides the proper texture for making vegan cheese.

Their pumpkin seed cheddar cheese spread is expected to be launched this June.

With a greater awareness of animal cruelty, the negative environmental impact of the dairy industry, and health issues, more people are opting for plant-based diets. The three years leading up to 2020, saw a 600% growth in the number of US consumers who identify themselves as vegan.

There are many alternatives to milk, such as oat and soy milk, but cheese alternatives are thin on the ground. Producers face difficulties in creating a texture similar to dairy cheese, and products contain a significant quantity of oil. In addition, numerous products leave much to be desired in terms of taste. For these reasons, many people struggle to give up dairy cheese, even though it is considered the third most environmentally damaging food, according to US non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), as reported in the UK’s Independent.

Thai startup PB Foodtory has come up with a healthier and tastier alternative — pumpkin seeds. This local superfood is a good source of protein, fibre, omega-3, and many other healthy fats and minerals. Most importantly, it gives the right texture to make vegan cheese.

Nutchana Tiamchayphan, CEO and co-founder of PB Foodtory, says the company’s goal is to make a vegan cheese with a comparable texture to dairy cheese without adding any oils.

“Consumer health is what we really focus on,” she says, adding that their saltiness enhancement technique, ensures consumers, “can still get that salty taste they want while the cheese is actually low in sodium”.

With a background in Food Science and Innovation, Nutchana attended the Food Innopolis Bootcamp, where she had researched and developed a cheese dip from a new source of protein. Her cheese innovation won two Popular Vote Awards from the Food Innopolis Innovation Contests 2020 and 2021, as well as the Startup Winner at Thaifex-Anuga’s Food Innovation Product Contest 2022.

She then co-founded the company and created the pumpkin seeds cheese brand ‘Trumpkin’ with her cousin Siwapol Thitayarasa in June 2022. Both are pursuing doctorates in Integrative Medicine at Thammasat University’s Chulabhorn International College of Medicine (CICM).

Trumpkin has developed two products: a cheddar cheese spread and a mozzarella cheese block. The company has created a masking technique that helps reduce unpleasant aroma, which is one of the main issues consumers have when eating vegan cheese.

“In the future, we can also apply this technique to other non-dairy products such as plant-based milk, ice cream, and butter. But for the time being, we’re focusing on non-dairy cheese only,” Nutchana says.

Trumpkin is in the process of registering its cheddar cheese spread with the FDA and hopes to launch it in June 2023.

“Our plan is to continue developing non-dairy products from a variety of protein sources, not just pumpkin seeds,” Nutchana says. “The main concept is to continue contract farming with local organic farmers and to explore for new healthy raw materials from Thai farmers. Also, right now we are looking for strategic partners, investors, as well as distributors to expand the business abroad.”

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Words by: Natanit Tanmanasiri

Photo Courtesy of PB Foodtory Co., Ltd.