The race to find the hot new milk — the one cool coffee shops start serving, the one protective parents insist their children only drink — can sometimes feel as heated a contest as, I don't know, the race to cure cancer or create the next club drug. Now that almonds, cashews, soy, and god knows what else have been **milked,** where, sweet lord, does it all go?
One possibility: The synthetic route, which Berkeley food tech startup Perfect Day has proposed. Their approach: Make "milk" from real milk proteins, copying the DNA of cow's milk using fermented yeast, but making a product that's lactose free and, of course, vegan. Why do that? The synthetic process, they claim, uses way, way less water (not to mention unleashes far, far fewer emissions) and it could end up being much cheaper to produce.
Perfect Day, née Muufri, was founded in 2014 and just recently reported on by the Business Times. The "animal-free dairy milk," as Perfect Day refers to its product, has hopes for other uses, too — or as they say in the business, "applications." It uses real casein and whey, making ice cream, cream cheese, etc. possible byproducts. And for anyone who has tolerated vegan cheese on pizza — it tends to liquify rather than melt — that's exciting news. Vegan cheese is a kind of hippie holy grail: Chronicle food writer Jonathan Kauffman tasted his way through plenty of new entries into the category, writing that the appeal for vegans or would-be vegans, is huge: "[The] drive to replace cheese is ideological as well as emotional," he thinks.
Perfect Day agrees. "We really love cheese," Perumal Gandhi said, a company co-founder, tells the Business Times. While his team's products will be produced and sold at first just in the form of yogurt, according to an article in Quartz, that's just the beginning, they say.
Ryan Pandya, the other half of Perfect day, is a bioengineer, like his cofounder, and the two sound serious and legit. But unfortunately, Pandya and Ghandi enter a field slightly soured, if not completely curdled, by companies like Hampton Creek, the makers of Just Mayo. That business, while initially a popular investment, has been accused of inflating its claims, and it now faces an SEC inquiry because company workers were encouraged by their own products to buy off of grocery shelves seemingly to inflate perceptions of its popularity. But the proof is in the pudding: Investors have already pumped $4 million into the company to see where this all goes.