Dairy 2.0: will it be plants or microbes that put cows out of a job?

Dairy 2.0: will it be plants or microbes that put cows out of a job?

By
Laura Robinson
June 30, 2020

For many years, soya was the undisputed champion, calling to the lactose intolerant and fitness junkies from quirky urban health stores. Then almond, rice and coconut arrived on the scene and alternatives broke into, then dominated, mainstream supermarket aisles. Today, dairy 2.0 has risen to new heights.

As well as the established giants – like Alpro, Blue Diamond Growers and Oatly – global food brands like Danone have joined the party. A diverse start-up scene has seen ambitious entrepreneurs milking everything in sight and cooking up all sorts of product innovations – from hemp and pea milk to chickpea ice cream and cheese made of cauliflower.

Then there are those who want to skip agriculture altogether. Precision fermentation advocates claim that this new microbe-driven production technique will make dairy farming obsolete by 2035.

So it seems that putting cows out of a job is big business. Fuelled by growing consumer demand and investors turning up the heat on carbon reduction commitments, the global dairy alternatives market is set to grow to $41 billion by 2025.

Thinking of ditching dairy? This week, we explore how the dairy alternatives market is evolving in 2020 and take a look at how innovative food businesses can milk this growing trend.

Drivers: healthier, more sustainable dairy, for less

The plant-based market – driven by growing armies of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians - continues to witness impressive growth. Viral videos like Cowspiracy and Dairy is Scary have created greater consumer awareness about the environmental and ethical issues linked to the dairy industry. And the increased availability of plant-based options has made it easier than ever to make the switch.

Other consumers are choosing not to eat dairy for health reasons. For some, it’s concerns about links to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while others are wary of potential contaminants, like hormones and pesticides. Growing awareness and acceptance of lactose intolerance is driving others to look for alternatives for their morning cappuccino. Either way, generation Z now considers plant-based milk healthier than cow’s milk and consumers as a whole are looking for functional benefits without the risks.

Until now, the high cost of plant-based alternatives has typically remained a key sticking point for many lower income consumer groups. But advanced technologies like precision fermentation promise to provide better quality cow-free milks at a fraction of the price of their animal-derived equivalents – a development that may certainly sway anyone who’s still sitting on the fence.

Established players, rising stars and new production techniques

Plant-based milks are typically made from grains, nuts or seeds mixed with water and potentially other flavourings or added vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value and environmental impact can vary greatly depending on the brand and base ingredient. Soya milk remains the most popular pick. But almond, rice and coconut milks also boast a significant market presence. And oat milk – due to its natural creaminess, frothability and strong environmental credentials – has seen sales grow 500% year-on-year.

If you’re eager to try something new, your choice no longer stops there. Some supermarkets now stock over 70 different dairy-free options, including cashew, hazelnut, hemp, chickpea and quinoa milk. Hemp milk in particular has been singled out as a promising contender. Given that it’s high protein, low fat and packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, experts have claimed that it’s one of 2020’s biggest opportunities and see the market growing to $454 million by 2024.

Then there’s precision fermentation. This technology uses microbes to produce complex organic molecules, like the proteins found in meat or milk. The process can create more affordable and more sustainable milk powder in a matter of days. And given that the final product behaves in the same way as cow’s milk, it can be easily transformed into a full range of dairy-free food and beverages.

Key applications: Beverages, yoghurts and ice cream

Non-dairy beverages unsurprisingly lead the market share. Having quickly become a standard addition to any urban coffee shop, one in ten of Pret a Manger’s hot drinks is now ordered with a plant-based alternative. Large coffee chains, like Starbucks, are also encouraging their customers to make the switch and some forward-thinking cafés have now made non-dairy the norm.

Dairy-free yoghurts and ice cream are also estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.20% and 14.8% respectively in the next few years. Sector experts predict that almond-based products will perform particularly well in both segments, given their low fat content, their contribution to reducing bad cholesterol and immunity boosting properties. While budding ice cream entrepreneurs may want to opt for well-established coconut or an innovative ingredient base, like pulse-powered Little Chkpea.

But what about dairy produced through precision fermentation? Experts see this as a largely ingredients-led, business to business disruption. Manufacturers could, for example, substitute powdered cow-milk for cheaper and more sustainable protein powder in their product formulations. And if even a few of the largest players made the switch, some claim that this could sound the death knell for the dairy industry.

Disrupting dairy: Eclipse Food and Remilk

Aylon Steinhart previously ran an incubator for innovative plant-based foods at the Good Food Institute. Thomas Bowman is an award-winning chef and food scientist who developed many of JUST’s leading products. So it’s hardly surprising that their jointly founded company – Eclipse Foods – is being positioned as the Impossible Burger of dairy. Using a top-secret mixture of ancient corn, oats, potato, canola oil and cassava, the team has created a plant-based ingredient base that can be processed like the dairy original. Their first product – a cowlessly creamy ice cream – went down very well with reviewers and is now available to flexitarian-focused food service partners as a liquid base for soft serve machines or in frozen tubs.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Remilk is using precision fermentation to produce a product that has the same flavour, nutritional composition and functionality as milk. Until they’re awarded patent protection, the team is keeping schtum about their ingredients, but founders were apparently inspired by the traditional cheese-making process. Taking a similar approach to Eclipse, they’re focussing on creating a versatile, animal-free ingredient base that can then be used in a wide variety of applications. Their first product is a mozzarella alternative that apparently boasts the same unique taste, mouthfeel and stretchiness of the animal-based original. After closing their seed round and being accepted into the ProVeg Incubator, the team is now looking for partners to scale their operations.

So what does the future hold?

There’s no doubt that dairy-free alternatives are here to stay. But it remains to be seen if precision fermentation will truly steal dairy’s crown thanks to better scalability and lower price points or whether plant-based and microbe-grown milks will evolve to fill different gaps in the growing market.  

Either way, a shift to ingredient bases that truly behave like dairy, rather than ready-made products, could create a step change in the range of alternatives on offer. This will allow chefs and product developers to use their existing dairy-based expertise and machines to develop their own innovations and flavour offerings.

And if this means more tongue-tantalizing, healthier and planet-friendly ice cream flavours in summers to come, then I’m certainly on board.


Business opportunities

  • Looking to develop a dairy alternative? Experts predict that plain, unsweetened options are likely to experience significant growth over the next few years, as consumers want more control over the amount of sugar that makes it into their morning muesli.

  • Targeting health-conscious millennials? Try exploring some more unconventional dairy free options – from hemp to chickpeas – and highlighting this USP in your marketing messages or through in-store signage to draw in functional food fans.

  • Produce products using milk powders? Connect with precision fermentation innovators to better understand what their products could offer you in the coming months.

Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
  • Get Event Discounts

For many years, soya was the undisputed champion, calling to the lactose intolerant and fitness junkies from quirky urban health stores. Then almond, rice and coconut arrived on the scene and alternatives broke into, then dominated, mainstream supermarket aisles. Today, dairy 2.0 has risen to new heights.

As well as the established giants – like Alpro, Blue Diamond Growers and Oatly – global food brands like Danone have joined the party. A diverse start-up scene has seen ambitious entrepreneurs milking everything in sight and cooking up all sorts of product innovations – from hemp and pea milk to chickpea ice cream and cheese made of cauliflower.

Then there are those who want to skip agriculture altogether. Precision fermentation advocates claim that this new microbe-driven production technique will make dairy farming obsolete by 2035.

So it seems that putting cows out of a job is big business. Fuelled by growing consumer demand and investors turning up the heat on carbon reduction commitments, the global dairy alternatives market is set to grow to $41 billion by 2025.

Thinking of ditching dairy? This week, we explore how the dairy alternatives market is evolving in 2020 and take a look at how innovative food businesses can milk this growing trend.

Drivers: healthier, more sustainable dairy, for less

The plant-based market – driven by growing armies of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians - continues to witness impressive growth. Viral videos like Cowspiracy and Dairy is Scary have created greater consumer awareness about the environmental and ethical issues linked to the dairy industry. And the increased availability of plant-based options has made it easier than ever to make the switch.

Other consumers are choosing not to eat dairy for health reasons. For some, it’s concerns about links to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while others are wary of potential contaminants, like hormones and pesticides. Growing awareness and acceptance of lactose intolerance is driving others to look for alternatives for their morning cappuccino. Either way, generation Z now considers plant-based milk healthier than cow’s milk and consumers as a whole are looking for functional benefits without the risks.

Until now, the high cost of plant-based alternatives has typically remained a key sticking point for many lower income consumer groups. But advanced technologies like precision fermentation promise to provide better quality cow-free milks at a fraction of the price of their animal-derived equivalents – a development that may certainly sway anyone who’s still sitting on the fence.

Established players, rising stars and new production techniques

Plant-based milks are typically made from grains, nuts or seeds mixed with water and potentially other flavourings or added vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value and environmental impact can vary greatly depending on the brand and base ingredient. Soya milk remains the most popular pick. But almond, rice and coconut milks also boast a significant market presence. And oat milk – due to its natural creaminess, frothability and strong environmental credentials – has seen sales grow 500% year-on-year.

If you’re eager to try something new, your choice no longer stops there. Some supermarkets now stock over 70 different dairy-free options, including cashew, hazelnut, hemp, chickpea and quinoa milk. Hemp milk in particular has been singled out as a promising contender. Given that it’s high protein, low fat and packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, experts have claimed that it’s one of 2020’s biggest opportunities and see the market growing to $454 million by 2024.

Then there’s precision fermentation. This technology uses microbes to produce complex organic molecules, like the proteins found in meat or milk. The process can create more affordable and more sustainable milk powder in a matter of days. And given that the final product behaves in the same way as cow’s milk, it can be easily transformed into a full range of dairy-free food and beverages.

Key applications: Beverages, yoghurts and ice cream

Non-dairy beverages unsurprisingly lead the market share. Having quickly become a standard addition to any urban coffee shop, one in ten of Pret a Manger’s hot drinks is now ordered with a plant-based alternative. Large coffee chains, like Starbucks, are also encouraging their customers to make the switch and some forward-thinking cafés have now made non-dairy the norm.

Dairy-free yoghurts and ice cream are also estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.20% and 14.8% respectively in the next few years. Sector experts predict that almond-based products will perform particularly well in both segments, given their low fat content, their contribution to reducing bad cholesterol and immunity boosting properties. While budding ice cream entrepreneurs may want to opt for well-established coconut or an innovative ingredient base, like pulse-powered Little Chkpea.

But what about dairy produced through precision fermentation? Experts see this as a largely ingredients-led, business to business disruption. Manufacturers could, for example, substitute powdered cow-milk for cheaper and more sustainable protein powder in their product formulations. And if even a few of the largest players made the switch, some claim that this could sound the death knell for the dairy industry.

Disrupting dairy: Eclipse Food and Remilk

Aylon Steinhart previously ran an incubator for innovative plant-based foods at the Good Food Institute. Thomas Bowman is an award-winning chef and food scientist who developed many of JUST’s leading products. So it’s hardly surprising that their jointly founded company – Eclipse Foods – is being positioned as the Impossible Burger of dairy. Using a top-secret mixture of ancient corn, oats, potato, canola oil and cassava, the team has created a plant-based ingredient base that can be processed like the dairy original. Their first product – a cowlessly creamy ice cream – went down very well with reviewers and is now available to flexitarian-focused food service partners as a liquid base for soft serve machines or in frozen tubs.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Remilk is using precision fermentation to produce a product that has the same flavour, nutritional composition and functionality as milk. Until they’re awarded patent protection, the team is keeping schtum about their ingredients, but founders were apparently inspired by the traditional cheese-making process. Taking a similar approach to Eclipse, they’re focussing on creating a versatile, animal-free ingredient base that can then be used in a wide variety of applications. Their first product is a mozzarella alternative that apparently boasts the same unique taste, mouthfeel and stretchiness of the animal-based original. After closing their seed round and being accepted into the ProVeg Incubator, the team is now looking for partners to scale their operations.

So what does the future hold?

There’s no doubt that dairy-free alternatives are here to stay. But it remains to be seen if precision fermentation will truly steal dairy’s crown thanks to better scalability and lower price points or whether plant-based and microbe-grown milks will evolve to fill different gaps in the growing market.  

Either way, a shift to ingredient bases that truly behave like dairy, rather than ready-made products, could create a step change in the range of alternatives on offer. This will allow chefs and product developers to use their existing dairy-based expertise and machines to develop their own innovations and flavour offerings.

And if this means more tongue-tantalizing, healthier and planet-friendly ice cream flavours in summers to come, then I’m certainly on board.


Business opportunities

  • Looking to develop a dairy alternative? Experts predict that plain, unsweetened options are likely to experience significant growth over the next few years, as consumers want more control over the amount of sugar that makes it into their morning muesli.

  • Targeting health-conscious millennials? Try exploring some more unconventional dairy free options – from hemp to chickpeas – and highlighting this USP in your marketing messages or through in-store signage to draw in functional food fans.

  • Produce products using milk powders? Connect with precision fermentation innovators to better understand what their products could offer you in the coming months.

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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
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For many years, soya was the undisputed champion, calling to the lactose intolerant and fitness junkies from quirky urban health stores. Then almond, rice and coconut arrived on the scene and alternatives broke into, then dominated, mainstream supermarket aisles. Today, dairy 2.0 has risen to new heights.

As well as the established giants – like Alpro, Blue Diamond Growers and Oatly – global food brands like Danone have joined the party. A diverse start-up scene has seen ambitious entrepreneurs milking everything in sight and cooking up all sorts of product innovations – from hemp and pea milk to chickpea ice cream and cheese made of cauliflower.

Then there are those who want to skip agriculture altogether. Precision fermentation advocates claim that this new microbe-driven production technique will make dairy farming obsolete by 2035.

So it seems that putting cows out of a job is big business. Fuelled by growing consumer demand and investors turning up the heat on carbon reduction commitments, the global dairy alternatives market is set to grow to $41 billion by 2025.

Thinking of ditching dairy? This week, we explore how the dairy alternatives market is evolving in 2020 and take a look at how innovative food businesses can milk this growing trend.

Drivers: healthier, more sustainable dairy, for less

The plant-based market – driven by growing armies of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians - continues to witness impressive growth. Viral videos like Cowspiracy and Dairy is Scary have created greater consumer awareness about the environmental and ethical issues linked to the dairy industry. And the increased availability of plant-based options has made it easier than ever to make the switch.

Other consumers are choosing not to eat dairy for health reasons. For some, it’s concerns about links to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while others are wary of potential contaminants, like hormones and pesticides. Growing awareness and acceptance of lactose intolerance is driving others to look for alternatives for their morning cappuccino. Either way, generation Z now considers plant-based milk healthier than cow’s milk and consumers as a whole are looking for functional benefits without the risks.

Until now, the high cost of plant-based alternatives has typically remained a key sticking point for many lower income consumer groups. But advanced technologies like precision fermentation promise to provide better quality cow-free milks at a fraction of the price of their animal-derived equivalents – a development that may certainly sway anyone who’s still sitting on the fence.

Established players, rising stars and new production techniques

Plant-based milks are typically made from grains, nuts or seeds mixed with water and potentially other flavourings or added vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value and environmental impact can vary greatly depending on the brand and base ingredient. Soya milk remains the most popular pick. But almond, rice and coconut milks also boast a significant market presence. And oat milk – due to its natural creaminess, frothability and strong environmental credentials – has seen sales grow 500% year-on-year.

If you’re eager to try something new, your choice no longer stops there. Some supermarkets now stock over 70 different dairy-free options, including cashew, hazelnut, hemp, chickpea and quinoa milk. Hemp milk in particular has been singled out as a promising contender. Given that it’s high protein, low fat and packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, experts have claimed that it’s one of 2020’s biggest opportunities and see the market growing to $454 million by 2024.

Then there’s precision fermentation. This technology uses microbes to produce complex organic molecules, like the proteins found in meat or milk. The process can create more affordable and more sustainable milk powder in a matter of days. And given that the final product behaves in the same way as cow’s milk, it can be easily transformed into a full range of dairy-free food and beverages.

Key applications: Beverages, yoghurts and ice cream

Non-dairy beverages unsurprisingly lead the market share. Having quickly become a standard addition to any urban coffee shop, one in ten of Pret a Manger’s hot drinks is now ordered with a plant-based alternative. Large coffee chains, like Starbucks, are also encouraging their customers to make the switch and some forward-thinking cafés have now made non-dairy the norm.

Dairy-free yoghurts and ice cream are also estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.20% and 14.8% respectively in the next few years. Sector experts predict that almond-based products will perform particularly well in both segments, given their low fat content, their contribution to reducing bad cholesterol and immunity boosting properties. While budding ice cream entrepreneurs may want to opt for well-established coconut or an innovative ingredient base, like pulse-powered Little Chkpea.

But what about dairy produced through precision fermentation? Experts see this as a largely ingredients-led, business to business disruption. Manufacturers could, for example, substitute powdered cow-milk for cheaper and more sustainable protein powder in their product formulations. And if even a few of the largest players made the switch, some claim that this could sound the death knell for the dairy industry.

Disrupting dairy: Eclipse Food and Remilk

Aylon Steinhart previously ran an incubator for innovative plant-based foods at the Good Food Institute. Thomas Bowman is an award-winning chef and food scientist who developed many of JUST’s leading products. So it’s hardly surprising that their jointly founded company – Eclipse Foods – is being positioned as the Impossible Burger of dairy. Using a top-secret mixture of ancient corn, oats, potato, canola oil and cassava, the team has created a plant-based ingredient base that can be processed like the dairy original. Their first product – a cowlessly creamy ice cream – went down very well with reviewers and is now available to flexitarian-focused food service partners as a liquid base for soft serve machines or in frozen tubs.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Remilk is using precision fermentation to produce a product that has the same flavour, nutritional composition and functionality as milk. Until they’re awarded patent protection, the team is keeping schtum about their ingredients, but founders were apparently inspired by the traditional cheese-making process. Taking a similar approach to Eclipse, they’re focussing on creating a versatile, animal-free ingredient base that can then be used in a wide variety of applications. Their first product is a mozzarella alternative that apparently boasts the same unique taste, mouthfeel and stretchiness of the animal-based original. After closing their seed round and being accepted into the ProVeg Incubator, the team is now looking for partners to scale their operations.

So what does the future hold?

There’s no doubt that dairy-free alternatives are here to stay. But it remains to be seen if precision fermentation will truly steal dairy’s crown thanks to better scalability and lower price points or whether plant-based and microbe-grown milks will evolve to fill different gaps in the growing market.  

Either way, a shift to ingredient bases that truly behave like dairy, rather than ready-made products, could create a step change in the range of alternatives on offer. This will allow chefs and product developers to use their existing dairy-based expertise and machines to develop their own innovations and flavour offerings.

And if this means more tongue-tantalizing, healthier and planet-friendly ice cream flavours in summers to come, then I’m certainly on board.


Business opportunities

  • Looking to develop a dairy alternative? Experts predict that plain, unsweetened options are likely to experience significant growth over the next few years, as consumers want more control over the amount of sugar that makes it into their morning muesli.

  • Targeting health-conscious millennials? Try exploring some more unconventional dairy free options – from hemp to chickpeas – and highlighting this USP in your marketing messages or through in-store signage to draw in functional food fans.

  • Produce products using milk powders? Connect with precision fermentation innovators to better understand what their products could offer you in the coming months.

For many years, soya was the undisputed champion, calling to the lactose intolerant and fitness junkies from quirky urban health stores. Then almond, rice and coconut arrived on the scene and alternatives broke into, then dominated, mainstream supermarket aisles. Today, dairy 2.0 has risen to new heights.

As well as the established giants – like Alpro, Blue Diamond Growers and Oatly – global food brands like Danone have joined the party. A diverse start-up scene has seen ambitious entrepreneurs milking everything in sight and cooking up all sorts of product innovations – from hemp and pea milk to chickpea ice cream and cheese made of cauliflower.

Then there are those who want to skip agriculture altogether. Precision fermentation advocates claim that this new microbe-driven production technique will make dairy farming obsolete by 2035.

So it seems that putting cows out of a job is big business. Fuelled by growing consumer demand and investors turning up the heat on carbon reduction commitments, the global dairy alternatives market is set to grow to $41 billion by 2025.

Thinking of ditching dairy? This week, we explore how the dairy alternatives market is evolving in 2020 and take a look at how innovative food businesses can milk this growing trend.

Drivers: healthier, more sustainable dairy, for less

The plant-based market – driven by growing armies of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians - continues to witness impressive growth. Viral videos like Cowspiracy and Dairy is Scary have created greater consumer awareness about the environmental and ethical issues linked to the dairy industry. And the increased availability of plant-based options has made it easier than ever to make the switch.

Other consumers are choosing not to eat dairy for health reasons. For some, it’s concerns about links to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while others are wary of potential contaminants, like hormones and pesticides. Growing awareness and acceptance of lactose intolerance is driving others to look for alternatives for their morning cappuccino. Either way, generation Z now considers plant-based milk healthier than cow’s milk and consumers as a whole are looking for functional benefits without the risks.

Until now, the high cost of plant-based alternatives has typically remained a key sticking point for many lower income consumer groups. But advanced technologies like precision fermentation promise to provide better quality cow-free milks at a fraction of the price of their animal-derived equivalents – a development that may certainly sway anyone who’s still sitting on the fence.

Established players, rising stars and new production techniques

Plant-based milks are typically made from grains, nuts or seeds mixed with water and potentially other flavourings or added vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value and environmental impact can vary greatly depending on the brand and base ingredient. Soya milk remains the most popular pick. But almond, rice and coconut milks also boast a significant market presence. And oat milk – due to its natural creaminess, frothability and strong environmental credentials – has seen sales grow 500% year-on-year.

If you’re eager to try something new, your choice no longer stops there. Some supermarkets now stock over 70 different dairy-free options, including cashew, hazelnut, hemp, chickpea and quinoa milk. Hemp milk in particular has been singled out as a promising contender. Given that it’s high protein, low fat and packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, experts have claimed that it’s one of 2020’s biggest opportunities and see the market growing to $454 million by 2024.

Then there’s precision fermentation. This technology uses microbes to produce complex organic molecules, like the proteins found in meat or milk. The process can create more affordable and more sustainable milk powder in a matter of days. And given that the final product behaves in the same way as cow’s milk, it can be easily transformed into a full range of dairy-free food and beverages.

Key applications: Beverages, yoghurts and ice cream

Non-dairy beverages unsurprisingly lead the market share. Having quickly become a standard addition to any urban coffee shop, one in ten of Pret a Manger’s hot drinks is now ordered with a plant-based alternative. Large coffee chains, like Starbucks, are also encouraging their customers to make the switch and some forward-thinking cafés have now made non-dairy the norm.

Dairy-free yoghurts and ice cream are also estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.20% and 14.8% respectively in the next few years. Sector experts predict that almond-based products will perform particularly well in both segments, given their low fat content, their contribution to reducing bad cholesterol and immunity boosting properties. While budding ice cream entrepreneurs may want to opt for well-established coconut or an innovative ingredient base, like pulse-powered Little Chkpea.

But what about dairy produced through precision fermentation? Experts see this as a largely ingredients-led, business to business disruption. Manufacturers could, for example, substitute powdered cow-milk for cheaper and more sustainable protein powder in their product formulations. And if even a few of the largest players made the switch, some claim that this could sound the death knell for the dairy industry.

Disrupting dairy: Eclipse Food and Remilk

Aylon Steinhart previously ran an incubator for innovative plant-based foods at the Good Food Institute. Thomas Bowman is an award-winning chef and food scientist who developed many of JUST’s leading products. So it’s hardly surprising that their jointly founded company – Eclipse Foods – is being positioned as the Impossible Burger of dairy. Using a top-secret mixture of ancient corn, oats, potato, canola oil and cassava, the team has created a plant-based ingredient base that can be processed like the dairy original. Their first product – a cowlessly creamy ice cream – went down very well with reviewers and is now available to flexitarian-focused food service partners as a liquid base for soft serve machines or in frozen tubs.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Remilk is using precision fermentation to produce a product that has the same flavour, nutritional composition and functionality as milk. Until they’re awarded patent protection, the team is keeping schtum about their ingredients, but founders were apparently inspired by the traditional cheese-making process. Taking a similar approach to Eclipse, they’re focussing on creating a versatile, animal-free ingredient base that can then be used in a wide variety of applications. Their first product is a mozzarella alternative that apparently boasts the same unique taste, mouthfeel and stretchiness of the animal-based original. After closing their seed round and being accepted into the ProVeg Incubator, the team is now looking for partners to scale their operations.

So what does the future hold?

There’s no doubt that dairy-free alternatives are here to stay. But it remains to be seen if precision fermentation will truly steal dairy’s crown thanks to better scalability and lower price points or whether plant-based and microbe-grown milks will evolve to fill different gaps in the growing market.  

Either way, a shift to ingredient bases that truly behave like dairy, rather than ready-made products, could create a step change in the range of alternatives on offer. This will allow chefs and product developers to use their existing dairy-based expertise and machines to develop their own innovations and flavour offerings.

And if this means more tongue-tantalizing, healthier and planet-friendly ice cream flavours in summers to come, then I’m certainly on board.


Business opportunities

  • Looking to develop a dairy alternative? Experts predict that plain, unsweetened options are likely to experience significant growth over the next few years, as consumers want more control over the amount of sugar that makes it into their morning muesli.

  • Targeting health-conscious millennials? Try exploring some more unconventional dairy free options – from hemp to chickpeas – and highlighting this USP in your marketing messages or through in-store signage to draw in functional food fans.

  • Produce products using milk powders? Connect with precision fermentation innovators to better understand what their products could offer you in the coming months.