Food giant Nestlé is looking to develop animal-free dairy products in conjunction with US-based Perfect Day.

Switzerland-based Nestlé will pilot a product through its newly-established US R+D Accelerator, bringing it to the US market later this year as a “test-and-learn”. The product is being made with animal-free protein from California-headquartered Perfect Day.

Set up in 2014 by Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi as an animal-free ingredients business, Perfect Day says its protein, made through precision fermentation, is identical to the whey protein found in cow’s milk and offers good nutritional and functionality benefits. It is suitable for vegans and is lactose-free. Perfect Day has secured $750m in funding since its creation in 2014.

Nestlé suggested the tie-up complements investments it has made in plant-based meat and dairy-alternative offerings over the years to “meet the growing consumer demand for nutritious, more environmentally friendly diets that also taste great”.

The yet-to-be-launched product was developed by Nestlé R&D teams in Switzerland.

Heike Steiling, head of Nestlé’s Development Center for dairy products, said: “As the world’s largest food and beverage company, delivering foods and beverages that are good for people and the planet is a priority. We are exploring emerging technologies that can lead to animal-friendly alternatives that are nutritious and sustainable, without compromising on taste, flavour, and texture.

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“Bringing together our unmatched R&D expertise, innovation capabilities and scale, we are working to develop and test novel animal-free dairy protein-based products to complement our wide-ranging portfolio of plant-based alternatives.”

The recently created US R+D Accelerator is said to be “focused on identifying opportunities and aims to bring highly-differentiated product concepts to the market in only six months”.

A Perfect Day spokesperson said: “It’s extremely exciting to be working with the largest food and beverage company in the world.”

Perfect Day has established similar joint venture products with other major food businesses.

In June, it teamed up with US confectionery heavyweight Mars to launch an animal-free dairy chocolate bar – Co2coa.

And US food business General Mills’ innovation growth arm G-works rolled out alternative cream cheese product Bold Cultr last year in collaboration with Perfect Day.

In October last year, Kitkat owner Nestlé made further inroads into plant-based with alt-egg and shrimp lines, introduced initially in a limited number of stores in Switzerland and Germany under its Garden Gourmet brand.

Nestlé’s product range already contains plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, sold in markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

Just Food analysis, November 2021: “Our grandchildren won’t believe we consumed milk from cows” – what’s the outlook for animal-free dairy?