How Plant-Based Cheese Can Save the Dairy Farmers’ Business model

If dairy farms want to remain in business, they will have to (partially) switch to other products. Willicroft, a Dutch vegan cheese maker wants to help farmers. By growing white beans instead of milking cows, the farmers can make ends meet and meet the sustainability requirements of the future. Willicroft then turns these beans into climate-friendly cheese.

Willicroft’s plan helps both sides. Today, they makes cheese from nuts, and although nuts emit less greenhouse gas than cows, it is still a process that is not optimal for the environment. Moreover, it is difficult to make nut cheese on a large scale because the supply is limited. By switching to white beans, the cheese can become much more environmentally friendly and can be produced on a larger scale.

The problem is that there are not enough European white beans. According to Willicroft, the demand for beans has increased in recent years, partly due to the growing popularity of meat substitutes and plant based cheese, but production lagged behind. That is beans are now imported from distant countries, where transport causes extra emissions and cultivation is not done in a climate-friendly manner.

If dairy farmers participate in the plan, a lot of white beans will soon be coming from the Netherlands. They can then be exported to other countries, just as currently dairy products are. For this, the farmers must be willing to participate. Willicroft has found a dairy farmer who will not be growing cows in part of the country, but beans. This pilot must demonstrate that the business model that Willicroft devised is feasible.

Ultimately, Willicrof thinks that farmers can make a good profit from the beans, in combination with (fewer) cows. “But that is a process of years,” says Tim Keijzer of Willicroft. “It takes time to set up such a system. The demand for beans has to rise even further, and we have to compete with other countries that produce beans very cheaply. But we think that is possible. ”

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