SAN LEANDRO, CALIF. – As animal-free dairy manufacturer New Culture moves toward commercializing its products, the company hired James Jones, Ph.D., as vice president of food science and product development.

New Culture shared that Jones will direct technical aspects of product research and development and commercialization for the company’s debut product, animal-free mozzarella. He will lead efforts in those same areas on future products, as well, dealing with specifications, manufacturing scale-up and other factors while working with technical and business teams.

The company uses both traditional cheese-making methods and precision fermentation to make its animal-free mozzarella, which New Culture said delivers the taste, melt and stretch associated with traditional dairy cheese. The product is lactose- and cholesterol-free, with what the company described as a nutritional profile and protein content comparable to traditional mozzarella.

The Bay Area-based company shared it plans to offer public tastings this year and launch its animal-based mozzarella in pizzerias beginning in 2024.

Jones joined the company with 30-plus years of food industry experience, including his most recent role as vice president of innovation at plant-based cheese and spread manufacturer Follow Your Heart. He previously served as vice president of customer innovation and plant-based foods for AAK.

“James’s extensive experience across the food industry will be invaluable for our team, not only for our exceptional product and food science group but company-wide,” said Inja Radman, Ph.D., chief science officer and co-founder of New Culture. “James is joining the team at the perfect time as we accelerate our manufacturing and commercialization efforts to bring New Culture mozzarella to market.”

Jones earned a bachelor's degree in food science and nutrition at the University of Arizona and his Ph.D., in food science at Purdue University.

“Precision fermentation is the future of food, and I can’t wait to dive in with New Culture to bring their unparalleled animal-free cheese to market,” Jones said. “Coming from the plant-based industry, I’m thrilled for the opportunity to advance New Culture’s product portfolio and provide consumers and pizzerias with an animal-free cheese that actually meets expectations.”