U.S – Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotechnology company, partners with Swiss food tech company QL AG to pioneer precision fermentation for alternative dairy proteins.
Their goal is to create products that satisfy consumer taste and texture expectations while addressing climate impact and cost challenges in the dairy industry.
The move comes as the dairy sector grapples with the pressures of climate change, resource scarcity, and the need for sustainable alternatives.
QL AG specializes in formulating animal-free nutrition solutions, and in this collaboration, it will harness Ginkgo’s platform for cell programming and biosecurity to create dairy proteins.
The aim is to deliver alternative proteins that cater to consumers’ demands for functionality, taste, and scalability, while also aligning with global sustainability goals.
Kalpesh Parekh, Vice President of Business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks, emphasized the need for alt-proteins to meet these criteria, acknowledging the importance of consumer acceptance and sustainability.
“The dairy industry faces considerable challenges due to its environmental footprint, as it consumes large amounts of process water, contributing to pollution through contaminated wastewater streams,” he noted.
The alternative dairy market has witnessed significant growth in recent years, worth tens of billions of dollars, as consumers seek healthier, sustainable, and affordable food options.
However, many current dairy alternatives struggle to meet consumer standards for taste, texture, nutrition, and sustainability.
Fermentation-enabled ingredients, including proteins, are gaining popularity when they achieve the right balance of taste, functionality, and price.
According to Roger Föhn, CEO and co-founder of QL AG, the advantages of fermentation-derived dairy proteins, include improvements in taste and texture, reduced land and water requirements, and lower costs.
“By partnering with Ginkgo, QL AG aims to create a significant shift in alternative agriculture by leveraging Ginkgo’s expertise in producing high-titer strains and scaling fermentation processes,” he noted.
“Ginkgo’s platform is equipped to address the challenges associated with traditional dairy proteins, such as productivity, economics, and functionality.”
He added that Ginkgo employs strain engineering across multiple chassis organisms to create novel ingredients using flexible, regulation-friendly, scalable, and cost-effective strains.
This approach helps to resolve challenges and enhance the production of alternative dairy proteins.
The use of precision fermentation technology has seen a significant rise in the launch of alternative protein food and beverages, particularly in the dairy and meat substitute categories.
These innovations are driven by consumer demand for products that replicate the taste and texture of traditional dairy.
Other innovators in the alternative dairy sector are also exploring genetic engineering and precision fermentation to produce animal-free milk proteins, with companies like Solar Foods and Imagindairy making notable strides in the field.