MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. is entering the animal-free dairy category with a new brand called Bold Cultr.

Co-founders Drake Ellingboe, Laura Engstrom and Illeme Amegatcher developed the brand through G-Works, the company’s internal accelerator. Its first product is a plain flavor cream cheese alternative made with milk proteins created through precision fermentation. The product features non-animal whey protein from food technology company Perfect Day, plus pea protein, palm oil, cultures, starches and gums.

Good Cultr is aimed at consumers looking for cheese alternatives that have the same taste and texture of dairy, but without the animals, said Doug Martin, chief disruptive growth officer at General Mills.

“The innovations coming out of our G-Works teams are an example of General Mills truly thinking differently about how we innovate,” he said. “It starts with solving real consumer problems, developing breakthrough solutions — and then fueling those brands using the scale and capabilities of General Mills to accelerate their growth. This first product from Bold Cultr is proof positive that we’re finding new ways to test and learn outside of our core portfolio and in a white space of the food industry.”

The cream cheese alternative is launching direct-to-consumer through Bold Cultr’s e-commerce platform and in select Hy-Vee locations in Minnesota. General Mills plans to test and learn with early foodservice partners before expanding the brand’s retail and digital footprints in the coming months. Minneapolis-based artisan bagel shop Rise Bagel Co. will serve the product beginning in January.

Two additional cream cheese flavors currently are in development alongside animal-free cheese slices and shreds.

“Many of the consumers we talked to want to be animal-free, but cheese is holding them back — the alternatives aren’t doing what consumers want them to,” Ms. Engstrom said. “We’re excited to reimagine what cheese can be and tackle this consumer problem head on.” 

Animal-free whey proteins from Berkeley-based Perfect Day are showing up in a growing number of products, including frozen treats from Graeter’s and Swedish keto-friendly brand Nick’s. The Urgent Co., a company related to Perfect Day, offerscake mixandice creamunder the Brave Robot Brand as well ascream cheese alternativesunder the recently launched Modern Kitchen brand. The company on Nov. 16 introduced a line of vegan protein powders under the new California Performance Co. banner.