Perfecting Milk, Minus The Cows

6. March 2018.

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While making assumptions is never a good idea – as we all know what happens when one assumes – there are some assumptions that feel fairly safe to make.

A company that wants to build and sell bicycles, for example, is at some point going to need to have wheels on hand because there is no building a bicycle without wheels.

Skydiving companies will have to invest some amount of money in parachutes – because pushing people out of a airplane without a chute is not a business plan so much as it is a homicide plan. And if one wants to sell milk products – they are going to need to get a cow – or preferably several cows. All mammals make milk – but only mammal makes milk that has a commercial value – and that mammal is crucial to the milk making process.

Or is it?

Because as it turns out, while one would have been right in those first two assumptions – when it comes to that last one, not so much.

Because according to PerfectDay Dairy company – a cow is not a necessary precondition for a firm that wants to sell milk to the masses.

Or at least, it’s not a pre-condition for firms that want to sell “milk” to the masses.

Milk Minus The Cow

It might be a bit unfair to refer to Perfect Day’s product as “milk” because it is not meant to be an ersatz milk-like product.

Founders Ryan Pandya, Perumal Gandhi, and Isha Datar all explain that PerfectDay’s version of dairy isn’t a designed as a milk substitute a la soy, almond or rice milk.

The product is supposed to milk – just not the kind you squeeze out of a cow. It is, according to its founders, the type of milk one makes, instead of extracts. To make that magic happen, they explain – the use a microbial fermentation process to product animal-free dairy proteins that are the same casein and whey that occur naturally in cow’s milk.

“Our mission is to empower people to enjoy the dairy products they love, while leaving a kinder footprint on the planet,” the firm noted in an email exchange.

All three founders, back in 2014, realized that they had something of a conundrum. They wanted to cut out dairy from their diet, because dairy farming is inefficient energy-wise and uses up an extraordinary amount of land and freshwater.

It’s better for the world if people don’t drink cows milk.

But cheese is undeniably delicious, and the founders of the firm decided that there had to be a way to do right by the planet – and by their own stomachs at the same time.

The secret to making milk without having to buy the cow?

Genetically modified yeast.

Specifically, yester that has had its DNA modified such that once fed properly begins spitting out the proteins that give milk many of its unique properties: whey, casein, lactoglobulin, and lactalbumin.

The Perfect Day team describes the process as “similar in premise to brewing craft beer.”

And And it gives Perfect Day’s product similar properties to milk from a cow, meaining it can be used in much the same way to make dairy-dependant foods like mozzarella cheese,, yogurt, or milk shakes.

Critical, because as of yet, Perfect Day’s dairy innovation is being marketed to food companies, not food consumers.

The B2B Go-To-Market

Perfect Day was first conceived as a consumer facing product – but according to the founding team as they were developing their go to market strategy – B2B emerged as the obvious choice simply because of the volume of food companines that expressed interest in incorporating Perfect Day product into their consumer offers.

Why effect on aisle of the grocery store – their logic went – when through partnerships they had a chance to influence all aisles.

As for the uses – that is as varied as the firms, according to the Perfect Day team – some are looking to sell fresh vegan milk, others are looking to incorporate the materials into products like yogurt. And others, are looking at applications that the Perfect Day team noted most people probably wouldn’t even think of as dairy related.

The team also noted they are fielding interest from “some of the most popular dairy companies in the world – though as yet have not attached any official names to that claim.

Disrupting the World

The team at Perfect Day is adement that, in general, they bear no ill will toward dairy farmers – and are not trying to push them, en masses – out of business.

“We’re against unsustainable and unethical farming practices, which are often used in factory farms. But we wholeheartedly support the countless dairy farmers across the globe that use sustainable farming practices and genuinely care for their animals.”

In their perfect world?

Small “family farms” survive and thrive, factory farming of milk dies out – “and there’s enough delicious dairy to feed our growing planet.”

It’s a big goal – but an impossible one – considering plant-based milks currently account for 9.3 percent of total milk sales in the US – and what Perfect Day offers tastes and feels a good deal more like “real milk” than its plant based counterparts according to those who have tried it.

And Perfect Day is very confident in its product and what it can do for the world

“I honestly think that in five years I don’t know why anyone would use plant-based proteins in certain products anymore,” Perfect Day co-founder Ryan Pandya told Food Navigator. “Dairy proteins have the best amino acid profile and the best nutrition, so it’s a goldilocks product really.”

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