Milk without cows: Thanks to fermentation, future dairy products might originate in a lab

Credit: RomeoLu/Shutterstock
Credit: RomeoLu/Shutterstock

The industrial dairy industry is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the world. 

In a study​ published last year by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP), it was reported that 13 of the world’s largest dairy corporations’ emissions combined exceeded that of ‘carbon majors’ BHB and ConocoPhillips. Between 2015 and 2017, total combined emissions of these top 13 rose by 11%. 

Environmental concerns, coupled with mounting pressure for improved animal welfare, is helping drive technological advancements in the sector. A growing number of start-ups are looking to remove the cow from the equation completely. 

UK start-up Better Dairy is taking this approach. 

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Better Dairy’s technology is founded on precision fermentation, which Nagarajah described as a process not dissimilar to that used by beer brewers. 

“We’re leveraging off yeast fermentation, which means following a process very similar to beer brewing. But instead of ending up with beer, you end up with a big vat of dairy,” ​the CEO explained.

Better Dairy is not the first company to leverage this technology. Silicon Valley start-up Perfect Day​ is perhaps the best known in the sector, followed by Israeli start-up Remilk​, which says its animal-free milk behaves just the same way as cow’s milk. 

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