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27 July 2021 2 min read

Animal-free dairy? How is that even possible?

Picture this: You’re at the café ordering for yourself and your friends. “I’ll have a lactose-free flat white, an almond milk latte, a soy cappuccino and a macchiato with a dash of oat milk,” you say. The barista sighs inwardly.

Fortunately, it’s going to get a lot easier to order coffees that meet your friends' preferences. All you’ll need to do in the future is name the type of coffee and ask for it with Eden Brew.

Eden Brew is a start-up company we're a part of that's developing animal-free dairy products. They’re aiming for that creamy, frothy deliciousness we know, while also being lactose and cholesterol-free.

This is the first company of its kind in Australia. The science behind it draws on our expertise in flavour, texture and precision fermentation.

How to make milk without a cow

Researchers at our Food Innovation Centre in Victoria are perfecting the product ahead of an expected launch late in 2022.

Working with our yeast synthetic biology researchers and the National Biologics Facility, they begin with a yeast and then produce proteins using fermentation. For centuries, people have used fermentation to make cheese, yoghurt, beer and wine. But in this case, the fermentation is more precise. With this process, our researchers can produce the same casein and whey proteins found in cow’s milk. These proteins form the base which we combine with minerals, sugars, fats and flavours to create a glass of milk.

Animal-free milk is complementary - not competitive - to dairy

Eden Brew provides another option for consumers in the growing number of alternative protein products, both meat and dairy. Many of these cater to consumers wanting more sustainable, plant-based or allergen-free alternatives. In 2019, Dairy Australia reported that milk substitutes made up about 9.2 per cent of the dairy market in Australia.

That's the reason for the formation of the new company by Australia’s largest dairy co-op, Norco, venture capital firm, Main Sequence and CSIRO.

Norco is 100 per cent farmer-owned so their involvement in Eden Brew makes sense. They are getting behind a new innovation that offers more choice to consumers.

Eden Brew was formed through our Company Creation team and our Future Protein Mission. Company Creation brings together the founders (science, investor, entrepreneur and industry) required to build companies that can take science and technology innovation to market at pace.

Our Missions program tackles big global challenges and our Future Protein Mission aims to grow Australia’s protein industry by $10 billion by 2027.

A similar approach was taken in 2019 when plant-based protein company v2food was formed, backed by our science. In just two and a half years, the value of v2food has increased significantly.

Therefore, if Eden Brew follows a similar trajectory, then profits will go directly back to Norco’s 292 dairy farmers. They will be able to continue investing in their communities and ensure there’s a future for generations of dairy farmers. Our organisation also stands to benefit, and any equity we earn will be invested back into science to support the industry.

Eden Brew has its sights set on a range of animal-free dairy products in the future. In 2023 that double shot, extra hot, animal-free dairy cappuccino with extra froth on the side and two sugars is going to taste great.

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