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New Technology Can Transform Soy By-Product Okara Into Plant-Based Cheese

A food partnership between Republic Polytechnic (RP) and VC subsidiary SoiLabs in Singapore is using proprietary technology to upcycle okara, a soy by-product, into plant-based cheese products.

With financial backing from Hafnium Ventures, the foodtech arm of investment firm Hafnium Hafaway and parent company of SoiLabs, the soy cheese project is looking to fill the “white space” in the vegan cheese market, particularly in Asia and Europe, by using the 30 tons of wet okara that is produced in Singapore every day.

Okara contains high levels of dietary fiber and phytonutrients, but its ability to be reused is hindered by the large amounts of indigestible fiber it also contains. RP has devised a new technology that uses a natural process to convert okara into functional food ingredients such as a soy cream cheese that is high in protein, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Looking forward, the partners are planning to commercialize products in the sliced, cream, and soup formats, and the team is also working on other upcycling projects using corn cobs, tea and coffee pulp, sugarcane bagasse, fruit peels, and insect protein.

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