This Startup Is Making Milk Without Cows
Perfect Day wants to make dairy-free milk that's indistinguishable from the real thing.
There's a good chance you've heard of—and perhaps even tasted—the meatless Impossible Burger. Get ready for impossible milk. At Perfect Day, a San Franciso based startup, scientists are using bovine DNA, along with yeast and plant nutrients, to craft a cocktail that tastes and feels identical to the stuff that comes straight from the udder.
While non-dairy alternatives are everywhere, with everything from almond to soy to pea milk dominating grocery shelves, Perfect Day's product is the first that aims to be identical in nutrition and taste to actual cow's milk. According to The Guardian, sales of milk alternatives are anticipated to surpass $10 billion by 2019, and Ryan Pandya, Perfect Day's co-founder, hopes their company can gulp down a big glass of those profits.
And Perfect Day's ambitions don't stop at milk. Pandya and his team are also working on alternative cheese and ice cream products that animal-loving dairy consumers can eat with a clear conscience. "Many have been switching to more plant-based diets but when you have to give up cheese you think 'oh my god my life sucks I love pizza,'" Pandya says, adding that "the alternatives for yoghurt, cheese, and ice-cream are so bad that people don't even want to try them."
According to Pandya, the main reason milk-free products don't come close in terms of taste and satisfaction is that the key milk protein is missing. At Perfect Day, they recreate this protein utilizing cow DNA—plentifully available thanks to previous dairy-related lab research—which is combined with yeast and sugar and fermented until the proteins develop, completely animal-free. The lab-grown proteins are then combined with the other standard ingredients in dairy products, including fat, nutrients, and more sugar, to create the perfect replication.
Investors are so excited about the potential of Perfect Day's creations—which also eliminate the environmental implications of producing milk from dairy cows—that the company has already raised $4 million from investors, and has been in talks with a number of traditional dairy producers about working together. "We're taking plant nutrients and transforming them into animals protein the same way that cows do... but much more efficiently, because we're using a yeast cell, not a 2,000 pound animal," Pandya says. He compares the process to "brewing craft beer," more closely than the highly scientific technologies being used to create plant-based meat.
Perfect Day plans to make its ice cream, yogurt, and cheese products available by the end of 2017, with milk to follow. "We're here to create another option for people," Pandya says. "There is more and more demand for dairy, and that is causing increasing factory farming. Everyone agrees we should do less of that, and that's something we'll actually be able to do."