“The vegan and vegetarian movement in France has really been growing over the past few years," Kalyn Burns, cheese-maker at the French start-up, told FoodNavigator at SIAL in Paris last week. "Demand is definitely there, not only from the vegan community but also people who are just looking for alternatives, are intolerant to lactose or people who want to consume fewer animal products. It really feels like it’s the perfect timing and it’s great to see all the alternatives popping up everywhere.”
Tomm’ Pousse doesn’t promote its dairy cheese alternative as a specifically vegan product.
“We like to think our product is for everybody, including the French who are used to their traditional cheeses, especially Camembert.”
The brand name, Camemvert, is a play on words, incorporating the word ‘vert’ (green) into the world-famous French cheese from Normandy, Camembert.
Tomm’ Pousse has three Camemvert products – plain, black garlic and sage – and two Feta-style fresh cheeses.
The start-up uses fair trade and organic cashews sourced from India and Vietnam to replace dairy milk, which give a firm texture and neutral taste.
“If we had a different base, say almond or hazelnut, the taste might be a little too strong but cashew is pretty neutral and gives a milky, cheesy taste.”
The manufacturing process, however, is the same as traditional cheese-making, which is what allows Tomm’ Pousse to create a product that it believes resembles traditional Camembert, according to Burns.
“The only ingredients are cashew, water and salt, and then we use the same yeast and acidifiers as traditional cheeses,” she said.“After about a week into the aging process, that’s when the penicillium camemberti actually starts to grow and it covers the entire surface. It’s the exact same mould that you find on a traditional Camembert.”
Tomm’ Pousse currently has listings in around 15 to 20 specialist shops around France, Burns said.
Camemvert images © Tomm' Pousse