Graeter’s Ice Cream partners with Perfect Day on ‘animal-free’ vegan ice cream launch

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Graeter's Ice Cream
Photo: Graeter's Ice Cream

Related tags Perfect Day Graeter's Ice Cream Microbial fermentation Ice cream

Cincinnati-based Graeter’s Ice Cream, a 150-year-old family-owned company, and Perfect Day, a San Francisco-based startup producing animal-free milk proteins via microbial fermentation, have partnered to launch “Perfect Indulgence”, a line of frozen desserts using the startup's animal-free dairy proteins, which will be marketed as vegan, animal-free, and lactose-free.

The products, which come in six of Graeter’s traditional flavors (Black Cherry Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream, Oregon Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate and Chocolate Chip) and are made using the company's small-batch, French Pot freezers, will be available online at​ on November 27, and in Graeter’s brick-and-mortar scoop shops beginning Dec. 1, 2020.

Graeter’s said that it plans to release additional flavors, such as Madagascar Vanilla Bean, in the future.

Online sales have been a key focus for the ice cream brand, which ships nationwide, especially throughout the pandemic, said president and CEO of Graeter’s Ice Cream, Richard Graeter. Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA in June of this year, Graeter shared that while its brick-and-mortar business had experienced drastic declines due to the pandemic, the online traffic the company was seeing on its DTC was the highest its seen in years – registering a 4x to 5x sales increase compared to the same time last year – mimicking the type of online ordering the company usually sees around the holidays.

The partnership with Perfect Day is a milestone for Graeter's which has never launched an alternative to its dairy ice cream since its founding in 1870. 

“We are excited to finally be able to serve authentic Graeter’s indulgence to guests who choose to eat vegan or cannot enjoy our regular ice cream due to a lactose intolerance ​[However, the product is not suitable for anyone with a milk protein allergy]. Until now, we couldn’t put our name on a vegan product because it simply did not live up to our standards. But now, with Perfect Day, we can,”​ said Graeter.

Founded in 2014 by CEO and co-founder, Ryan Pandya, and co-founder, Perumal Gandhi, Perfect Day​ has raised cumulative funding of over $360m with an expanded Series C round announced in July 2020​, fueling the company’s production capabilities of its novel animal-free protein which the company envisions being used to makeover a range of conventional dairy products from ice cream and milk to cheese and butter.

Commenting on the launch with Graeter’s Ice Cream, Pandya said: "From the coasts to the Midwest, and across the entire world, everyone’s looking for kinder, greener offerings that deliver on taste appeal. This is just the beginning of what we see as a tremendous opportunity to share delicious, animal-free dairy with people in a mainstream capacity.”

The question of labeling 'non-animal' dairy proteins

Perfect Day’s non-animal dairy proteins are made using microbes (described as “flora’ by the company, which could cover fungi, yeast, or bacteria) to which it 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 filamentous fungi used in its first commercial product - non-animal whey protein - feed on sugars and other nutrients in big fermentation tanks and secrete the protein into the broth from which it can be harvested.

The production process raises questions on how exactly non-animal dairy proteins should be labeled on packaging. Previous launches such as Smitten N’Ice Cream launched earlier this year, features the ‘Made with Perfect Day’ logo and ‘non-animal whey protein’ on the ingredients list stating that the products are lactose-free and vegan but “not suitable for people with milk protein allergies.”

Read more about the process HERE​. 

As for Graeter’s Perfect Indulgence launch, the brand will call out ‘vegan’, ‘lactose free’, and ‘animal free’ on the front of pack, and on the ingredients list, the company uses 'non-animal whey protein'. The packaging also includes a call out that it contains 'milk allergens' along with a ‘Made with Perfect Day’ logo.


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