Better Dairy, a UK startup developing an animal-free dairy that was founded out of Entrepreneur First (EF), has leveraged £ 1.6 million in seed funding. The London-based company is currently in the R&D stages of developing products that are “molecularly identical” to traditional dairy without using animals as part of the production process.
This seed round was led by Happiness Capital along with many other investors in the space. These include CPT Capital, Stray Dog Capital and Wedge Capital, besides various anonymous angel investors. Better dairy Says it will use the funds to accelerate its R&D efforts with the aim of commercializing its first products by 2022.
Alumni of Evaniyal College London, Jevan Nagaraja (CEO) and Drs. Founded in 2019 by Christopher Reynolds (CTO), but added during EF’s company builder program, Better Dairy is using advances in technology to address the highly insecure dairy market. Nagaraja has a lot of experience with the tech company, including stents in Rocket Internet, Sampup and Ritua, as well as early ‘Dark Kitchen’ startup ShareDining. Meanwhile, Reynolds holds a PhD and several post-doctorates in bioinformatics and synthetic biology, and a natural science degree in chemistry and biochemistry.
Animal-based dairy farming is “highly inconsistent”, Nagaraja says, noting that it emits 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year and it takes 650 liters of water to produce just 1 liter of milk. “Dairy products containing many unwanted pollutants such as growth hormones and antibiotics are not best suited for human consumption by the process of weaning cows, and thus,” he says.
However, although plant-based alternatives are gaining popularity, Nagaraja argues that they are not a complete solution, often lacking in taste, texture and nutritional profile. And while they may be able to capture market share, they believe that plant-based alternatives to dairy will be “fundamentally successful” in disrupting the existing $ 700 billion dairy industry and supply chain. This is where better dairy comes from.
“We instead use yeast fermentation and biology to produce products that are molecularly similar to traditional dairy,” explains. “We follow the same process as Beer Brewing, but in our case the end result is larger vats of dairy rather than beer. This production process, seemingly in the future, is actually already being used to produce many enzymes for food production, for example to produce many medical products such as ranet, as well as insulin. , So we are just building on it ”.
The improved dairy is still early in the R&D process, but has already managed to produce its first dairy samples in the laboratory. The first challenge was to manipulate the yeast to produce early dairy proof of concepts. “After this, we believe that we have identified a clear path to achieve commercially viable products,” says Nagaraj. “While some of our milestones are box ticking exercises, for example to enhance our manufacturing capabilities, the key challenges we face are to revolve around optimizing our end to end production process” .
This is because, as the Better Dairy co-founder points out, dairy is a relatively low cost good. In order to realistically disrupt the existing dairy market, the startup will need to achieve a certain level of efficiency otherwise it succeeds in producing better dairy but still fails overall due to prohibitively high pricing Will go.
Says Nagaraja, “We initially focus on dairy protein, taking fat to its limits over time. “The main dairy protein whey and casein have many structural and nutritional benefits and are used as ingredients in thousands of food products. They are important in providing the texture of dairy products such as cheese, but are heavily used in soups and ready-to-eat foods, baked goods and pastries, chocolate and sweets and also pasta and bread. Even they find their way into products such as beef burgers and chicken nuggets to increase protein content and add texture.
“While our intention was initially to enable a wave of improved dairy products, our ambitions have grown to target the disintegration of the entire dairy supply chain into the dairy and non-dairy categories. Our vision is to create a world where humans are vegetarian even without realizing it ”.