What if manufacturers like Magnum, Breyers, and Ben & Jerry’s made their merchandise with out exploiting a single cow for her milk? Multinational conglomerate Unilever—which owns these ice cream manufacturers and others—is exploring a brand new know-how that might fully rework the way in which dairy is made, with out sacrificing style or texture.
The know-how is known as precision fermentation and it really works in a intelligent approach. Typical mass-produced dairy is made by impregnating a cow, sending her new child calf to slaughter for veal, milking her, after which repeating the method till she will now not produce milk.
With precision fermentation, the cow is taken out of the equation fully. As an alternative, the animal is changed by microbes—sourced from yeast or fungi—that are instructed to provide milk proteins that may then be became a base for animal-free dairy merchandise comparable to ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and extra.
Producing dairy proteins on this approach not solely removes the cruelty behind historically produced dairy however improves many environmental metrics, together with methane emissions that are tied to a cow’s organic features.
Andy Sztehlo, head of the ice cream analysis and improvement crew at Unilever, just lately led a tour on the firm’s analysis facility in the UK the place he spoke about Unilever’s plan to include dairy proteins made with precision fermentation “In all probability, it is going to be on considered one of our huge international manufacturers, presumably considered one of our North American manufacturers,” Sztehlo mentioned, in response to Bloomberg.
Unilever tells VegNews that it’s within the early phases of exploring precision fermentation because it applies to ice cream and expects the product to launch inside the subsequent 12 months or two. The corporate just isn’t prepared to verify which of its manufacturers may profit from this know-how.
Ben & Jerry’s dives into non-dairy
So which Unilever model has the potential to include precision fermentation? The corporate has launched vegan innovation into quite a lot of its manufacturers lately and set a goal to extend its plant-based dairy and meat gross sales to $1 billion by 2027, representing a five-fold improve of its present gross sales within the class.
Ben & Jerry’s
One Unilever-owned model that has doubled down on increasing its vegan choices is Ben & Jerry’s. The model first acquired into almond milk-based choices in 2016 with a four-flavor launch of PB & Cookies, Espresso Caramel Fudge, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Chunky Monkey. Since then, the model has expanded its vegan ice cream portfolio to incorporate greater than 20 flavors globally.
Ben & Jerry’s has additionally been innovating its vegan ice cream bases, particularly with the event of an allergen-friendly sunflower base which it unveiled in 2020 with the launch of Crème Brûlée Cookie, Mint Chocolate Cookie, and “Milk” & Cookies flavors.
And Ben & Jerry’s just isn’t the one Unilever-owned model to get into vegan ice cream. In 2018, Magnum launched its first two vegan flavors in Europe and Australia and introduced them stateside shortly thereafter. Unielever additionally owns Breyers and Talenti, each of which have launched dairy-free flavors lately.
Exterior of its ice cream enterprise, Unilever has additionally developed vegan mayonnaise underneath its iconic Hellmann’s model and has explored quite a lot of flavors, together with vegan Baconnaise, in the UK. The conglomerate additionally owns Dutch model The Vegetarian Butcher, a plant-based meat provider to fast-food large Burger King in Europe and different areas.
Precision fermentation may assist Unilever ship distinctive vegan choices for all of those manufacturers, whereas on the similar time serving to to satisfy its aim of reaching web zero emissions from all of its merchandise by 2039.
Perfecting dairy with precision fermentation
Along with Unilever, different main manufacturers are precision fermentation as a approach to slash their carbon footprints whereas delivering next-level vegan merchandise. Whereas Unilever didn’t reveal which firms it’s working with, the chief within the precision fermentation house is California-based Excellent Day, which makes animal-free whey.
The corporate has already made inroads with a number of main meals manufacturers, together with Normal Mills which used its animal-free whey to develop vegan cream cheese model Good Cultr. Confectionary firm Mars, Inc. labored with Excellent Day to develop its first vegan milk chocolate bar CO2COA, which it examined in restricted markets this summer time.
Nestlé, the world’s largest meals and beverage firm, can also be working with Excellent Day to discover its animal-free whey throughout its product portfolio, with plain and chocolate milks slated for launch within the US this 12 months.
And Excellent Day just isn’t the one participant on this modern trade. Ice cream formulations profit from the textural performance of animal-free whey. Nonetheless, one other milk protein, casein, is accountable for the stretch and pull of cheese, which fellow California-based firm New Tradition has perfected with the assistance of precision fermentation.
The corporate just lately introduced a partnership with $23 billion Korean conglomerate CJ CheilJedang which can assist New Tradition get its animal-free mozzarella cheese on the menu at pizzerias nationwide in 2023.