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Coffee giant Starbucks is testing Perfect Day’s fungi-based dairy-identical milk in select Seattle locations, the company announced earlier this week.
Perfect Day, the Bay Area food-tech startup, has been on a roll. The brand, which is now valued at more than $1.6 billion, recently raised $350 million in its efforts to remove cows from the dairy industry, without losing the dairy.
Now, it’s vying for a place in the coffee market with the Starbucks two-store trial.
How it works
Perfect Day makes dairy milk by creating the same proteins found in milk through a novel fermented microbiota. It works with fungi strains that are engineered to produce casein and whey—two dairy proteins. The genetically engineered fungi are coded with bovine DNA that creates whey protein. They’re then fed sugars to produce the dairy proteins that are then dried into a powder that can be used to make milk-based products including milk, cheese, and ice cream.
While the product is technically vegan as no animals were used to create it, it is not dairy-free and may not be safe for people with dairy allergies or sensitivities.
Its animal-free dairy stars in a new cake mix from offshoot Brave Robot. And the brand also recently announced it saved one million miles of emissions after selling its one-millionth pint of Brave Robot ice cream.
But its latest partnership could help move it more into the emerging dairy alternative market and help accelerate adjacent categories like other bio-fermented foods, as well as cell-based and cultivated meat and seafood.
The move comes as Starbucks has been making efforts to green up its menus, adding dairy-free milk options and vegan menu items.
It recently began serving Oatly oat milk after many of its competitors had added it. Blue Bottle Coffee is now making oat milk the default in select California locations. Oat milk is so popular right now even McDonald’s is getting in on the action. It recently added oat milk to its McCafe stores in Australia.
Both Starbucks and McDonald’s recently committed $10 million to the Closed Loop Partners’ Next Gen Consortium—work aimed at greening foodservice packaging and making it more accessible—as part of their ongoing sustainability efforts.
“Starbucks’ work with the NextGen Consortium has been an important part of our ongoing efforts to reduce single-use cup waste, part of our larger goal to reduce waste sent to landfills by 50 percent by 2030,” Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer at Starbucks, said in a statement. “There has never been a more critical time for industry collaboration to shift away from single-use packaging, promote reusability, and champion recyclability. We are thrilled to continue our work with the NextGen Consortium to drive sustainable solutions for our planet.”
Perfect Day’s milk is currently available at two Seattle locations for a limited time.
Lead photo by Anastasia Mihalkova on Unsplash