Berkeley-CA-based Perfect Day – which recently teamed up with global ingredients giant ADM to further develop and manufacture its proteins on a commercial scale in the US – has not released a timetable for when commercial quantities of its first products (whey proteins) will be available, but said the ice cream launch was a teaser to demonstrate one possible application.
“The best way for us to achieve the impact we’re looking for is working with larger partners and distributing b2b,” cofounder Ryan Pandya told FoodNavigator-USA.
“And as we put those deals together - and we’ll have big news on that in the coming months – we also realized that there was an opportunity for us to show the world early what our product tastes like and give consumers an opportunity to experience it.
“So we’re making 1,000 three-flavored sample box of pints of ice cream featuring our non-animal whey protein available on our website [on a first come first served basis]. We’re showing you can achieve the full creamy luscious mouthfeel and full dairy experience, that’s now totally animal free.
“We also showing what the brand could look like and to promote the ‘made with Perfect Day’ and ‘flora-made’ message."
Perfect Day dairy proteins are cleaner, greener and kinder than those produced via industrialized animal farming, claim co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, but they also represent a new supply of animal-free proteins that deliver the unique functionality and nutrition of dairy so that formulators do not have to compromise.
Perfect Day – which raised $24m in early 2018 - uses microbes (which the company describes as ‘flora’ – which could cover fungi, yeast, or bacteria) and adds DNA sequences (which can be 3D printed using synthetic biology techniques) which effectively instruct the microbes to produce the proteins found in milk.
The microbes feed on sugars and other nutrients in big fermentation tanks and secrete the protein into the broth from which it can be harvested. The leftover broth can then be used as fertilizer.
Read more about the process HERE.
Non-animal whey protein
So how is the Perfect Day whey protein described on the packaging?
“The ingredient is listed as ‘non animal whey protein’ on the ingredients list,” said Pandya.
When it comes to allergen labeling, he said, “It’s identical to what’s found in cow’s milk, so we do say on pack that it ‘contains milk protein,’ as opposed to what it would normally say, which is ‘contains milk.’”
Lactose free, vegan, and ‘flora-made’
Asked about what is proactively called out on pack, he said: “We also call out ‘lactose-free,’ ‘vegan,’ and ‘flora-made.’”
After a lot of discussion, ‘flora’ (short for microflora) is the name Perfect Day has landed upon as a way to describe the microbes (which could be bacteria, fungi, or yeast) used to manufacture its proteins, said Pandya.
“We’re talking to folks in government, non-profits, and public sector, and it’s starting to catch on, although we know it won’t happen overnight. I think the world needs a word for this very badly.”
Asked about the regulatory status of its products, Gandhi said Perfect Day had recently secured self-determined GRAS status for its proteins and had submitted its determination to the FDA, so is now waiting for a no objections letter.
The commercial scale launch
As for the commercial launch, Pandya said: “We’re working with ADM on manufacturing - scaling up domestic production; the amount of volume needed to meet demand is staggering, also in other geographies [where ADM might not have a manufacturing presence] but we’ll have more to share on that in a few months.”
Asked whether ADM’s sales teams would be selling Perfect Day products to their CPG customers, Pandya said: “The honest answer is that they absolutely could, but the reality is that we are faced with so much demand that we don’t actually need anyone to sell them in the next couple of years, we just need to make a lot more.”
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA about application opportunities for the proteins last year, Pandya said: “We’re looking at opportunities to replace dairy ingredients in applications already using dairy, and we’re also looking at opportunities to make plant-based products better…
“But there’s also a third category, because we’re making these proteins individually we’re actually able to explore a wider functionality space than what you can do with a set ratio of proteins that you find in cow’s milk. So we’re figuring out what these proteins can do to bring new experiences and functionality to food…”