Laboratory-made dairy products have a smaller environmental footprint

The key components of dairy products can be made in a lab with a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional dairy products, according to an analysis by dairy startup Perfect Day.

Why is this important: Cows – and the methane they produce – contribute significantly to the dairy sector’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

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In numbers : In a study first published on Axios, independent researchers commissioned by Perfect Day found that the company’s process produced more than 90% less greenhouse gases, required 20-60% energy in less and used over 96% less water per kilogram of protein produced compared to conventional bovine milk protein.

  • “This shows that fermentation can unlock a more efficient way to make foods that humans have a huge demand for,” said Ryan Pandya, co-founder and CEO of Perfect Day.

How it works: Perfect Day adds cow genes to a strain of fungus called Trichoderma reesei, then feeds their growth in fermentation tanks with sugar.

  • Mushrooms produce a mixture of dairy proteins like casein and whey that are molecularly identical to what is found in cow’s milk.

  • The company then adds water and vegetable fats to produce dairy products – including a line of ice cream called the Brave Robot – which it says has the same taste and nutritional profile as conventional ice cream.

Between the lines: Perfect Day’s lower environmental footprint is largely due to the fact that “the actual biology used in the fermentation process is much more efficient” than producing dairy products via cows, explains Pandya.

To note : The life cycle assessment was commissioned by Perfect Day, and it has not been peer reviewed, although Pandya notes that it has been reviewed by a panel of three independent external experts.

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About Thomas B. Countryman

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