The vegan* ice cream brand, which is pioneering a new ‘animal free dairy’ category promising the taste and performance of real dairy, without cows, utilizes whey proteins from Perfect Day, made via microbial fermentation.
While plant-based milks have captured a significant share of the fluid milk market, they account for a much smaller share of the ice cream and yogurt market, in part because it can be harder to deliver the taste, texture, eating experience, and functionality that consumers expect from these products, claimed The Urgent Co general manager and co-founder Paul Kollesoff.
Brave Robot - by contrast - tastes and performs like regular ice cream, because it's made with real dairy, just not from cow's milk, he said, enabling consumers to have their cake and eat it, especially those that are concerned about the ethics and sustainability of animal agriculture, but don't think plant-based products can match them on taste, performance, or nutrition.
'The opportunity to pioneer a new food category doesn’t happen too often'
Brave Robot has now secured listings in multiple Kroger banners, Harris Teeter, Albertsons/Safeway, Stop & Shop, Shoprite, Sprouts, Harmons, New Seasons, Fresh Thyme, and Earth Fare, said Kollesoff.
“The opportunity to pioneer a new food category doesn’t happen too often, and now 5,000 retail stores are with us… Dairy alternative ice creams always miss the mark on taste, and today's consumer is hungry for better options."
While the packaging highlights the brand's vegan/animal-free and lactose-free credentials, and features the strapline, ‘for a delicious future,’ the focus is on taste, he said. "It tastes like ice cream should."
Perfect Day’s dairy proteins (and in future fats) are cleaner, greener and kinder than those produced via industrialized animal farming, claim its founders, but they also represent a new supply of animal-free ingredients that deliver the unique functionality and nutrition of dairy so that formulators do not have to compromise.
Perfect Day uses microbes (which it 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 and fats found in milk. (The first products from its platform use a fungi found in soil called Trichoderma reesei.)
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.
Perfect Day secured a coveted 'no questions/objections' letter from the FDA in response to its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) determination for 'non-animal' whey protein in early 2020 .Read more here
*There is no legal definition of 'vegan' enshrined in US food law, so manufacturers make their own judgments or rely on 3rd party certifying agencies if they wish to adhere to a specific standard. Perfect Day argues that its products are vegan because the whey proteins are made “without the use of animals.”
That is, although its whey proteins are identical to whey protein from cow’s milk, they are not derived from cow’s milk, but made via microbial fermentation in a tank, says co-founder Ryan Pandya: “Our protein and process are absolutely vegan, owing to the fact that none of us has interacted with a single cow during our entire seven-year journey to this point.
"The initial DNA sequence came from a free scientific database and was used to create entirely animal-free DNA molecules.. And our host organism is fungal (non animal).”
The vegan Society said: "Brave Robot are not registered products with The Vegan Society Trademark so we are unable to comment on these products specifically.
"There is no legal definition of vegan and so companies can call or label a product as vegan. If a product is tested on animals however, then The Vegan Society would not consider it to be a vegan product and would not market or promote it as such.
"This is The Vegan Society’s definition: The Vegan Society only register products that do not and have not involved the use of any animal product, by product or derivative and do not or have not involved testing of any sort on animals* (this includes testing for efficacy, toxicity, safety, cosmetic purposes etc.) conducted at the initiative of the supplied company or on its behalf, or by parties over whom it has effective control. The Vegan Society understands the word 'animal' to refer to the entire Animal Kingdom that is all vertebrates and all multi-cellular invertebrates."