Startups are pioneering lab-grown dairy products

You’ve heard of plant-based burgers that bleed like real beef, oat milk ice cream that tastes as sweet and creamy as its dairy-based counterpart, and even lab-grown fish—all from this humble newsletter, of course. Now, the latest development within what has been a dizzying blitz of food innovation is lab-grown dairy. The following startups are pioneering this space by developing various processes to engineer dairy proteins without using cow-produced dairy, serving up solutions that are ultimately more sustainable for the planet.


Bay Area-based biotech startup Perfect Day has perfected the science behind lab-grown ice cream, which doesn’t involve any cows. The startup engineers whey and casein proteins (which are nutritionally identical to cow-produced whey and casein) from a genetically modified yeast to formulate its icy treat. These proteins help Perfect Day’s ice cream achieve the taste and creaminess of traditional dairy-based ice cream, which could in turn move the needle on the food industry’s reliance on environmentally-harmful, factory-farmed dairy. Perfect Day also prides itself on using 98% less water and 65% less energy to create their sweet product, making this already sustainable offering even more ecologically-viable.


Last fall, Kraft Heinz’ venture capital arm Evolv Ventures led a $3.5 million seed round for food biotech startup New Culture. New Culture’s food innovators are engineering an animal-free dairy cheese, a lab-grown and eco-friendly product that could one day present a perfect addition to the Kraft portfolio (potentially for use in its signature macaroni and cheese products). Instead of using animal-based dairy, New Culture achieves its lab-grown cheese by using fermentation to create dairy proteins before adding in its own plant-based fats, sugars, and run-of-the-mill cheesemaking techniques to create the finished product.


Motif is a food ingredients company that uses biotechnology and fermentation to engineer animal proteins, including those found in dairy. The company launched last year with $90M in Series A financing, the largest-ever Series A for a food tech company. With this funding, the company will continue to develop meat alternatives, dairy actives, and complete plant-based proteins in order to pioneer better food ingredient alternatives. Not only will this cater to growing consumer preference for meat- and dairy-free options, but food brands will find it more affordable and sustainable to use Motif’s lab-grown solutions.