Perfect Day (formerly known as Muufri) is developing an “animal-free dairy milk” – real milk, just not from a cow. “We’re trying to make a Goldilocks product that is better than anything out there; something that has the best of dairy products but also the best of the alternatives,” says co-founder and CTO Perumal Gandhi.

The milk is brewed from a yeast the company calls Buttercup. The company notes it can be turned into cheese and yogurt in exactly the same way as regular milk and tastes the same.

To make its animal-free milk, the company feeds sugars to a common dairy yeast optimized to produce real milk proteins, including casein, the main protein in cheese. The developers note it is very similar to processes already used commercially to manufacture medicines, vaccines, and some food products like rennet. Then, they add in other plant-based fats, vitamins, minerals, and sugars. The final product is supposed to be functionally and nutritionally similar to milk, but it is lactose-, antibiotic-, and growth hormone-free.

On launch, they aim for their dairy product to be affordable and, ultimately, hope it will cost less than regular dairy products. They reportedly are also testing out what to call it and are in discussions with the FDA about testing and labeling choices.

What we think

22% of US consumers say they consume protein more from sources other than meat

Americans appear to be slowly embracing protein from alternative sources, with one in five saying they consume protein more from sources other than meat; this jumps to one quarter of Millennials and iGeneration. We see health is a huge driver here as over a third of consumers indicate they would limit meat consumption for heart health. However, the processed nature of a cow-free dairy milk may well serve as a serious deterrent, even to those who would appear to be the primary audience for the product.

With traditional dairy and almond milk facing increased criticism for various reasons, consumers may turn to alternatives with less of an impact on both animals and the environment. However, just one in 10 say they consume protein alternatives for animal welfare. Consumers are more likely to say they turn to protein alternatives out of a concern about foods with genetically modified ingredients. Our research shows that consumers are intensely concerned about artificial and processed foods, and a “milk” derived in a lab may not resonate.

Billy Roberts is a Senior Analyst, Food and Drink at Mintel, based in the Chicago office. Billy previously worked as Executive Editor covering consumer insights and new food and beverage trends with a leading trade publication.

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