The new Cowabunga beverages contain animal-free whey and are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.
Food and beverage giant Nestlé is bringing its line of animal-free dairy drinks to select US San Francisco grocery stores under the Cowabunga brand.
The new range comes from a partnership with California-based Perfect Day that manufactures animal-free whey using precision fermentation.
The dairy-free drinks are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D and are available in two flavours: milk and chocolate.
The Swiss food giant first announced plans to explore the potential of animal-free dairy in September. It partnered with Perfect Day through its newly-established US R+D Accelerator.
“As the world’s largest food and beverage company, delivering foods and beverages that are good for people and the planet is a priority,” Heike Steiling, Head of Nestlé’s Development Center for dairy products, said at the time.
“We are exploring emerging technologies that can lead to animal-friendly alternatives that are nutritious and sustainable, without compromising on taste, flavour, and texture.”
The accelerator is a new initiative that aims to explore new technologies and introduce them in the market in under six months.
Joanna Yarbrough, head of R+D Accelerator, added: “We are excited to pilot Nestlé’s first animal-free dairy protein-based products through our U.S. R+D Accelerator.
“While this category is still very young, we know consumers are looking for products that have a reduced environmental footprint, and we are evaluating this avenue as a future growth opportunity for our business.”
Perfect Day foods
Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi founded Perfect Day in 2014 as an animal-free ingredients business. They use precision fermentation to make protein that is identical to the whey protein found in cow’s milk.
The process involves adding naturally-occurring microflora to industrial-scale fermentation tanks.
The specific protein is made in a brewing tank where microflora digest nutrients from plants and turn them into a milk protein
According to Perfect Day, the beverage is naturally lactose and cholesterol free and contains an excellent source of protein and vitamins.
The food tech brand claims that its protein can make several dairy-identical products, including milk, cheese, and yoghourt, without any animal sourced ingredient.
Not only that, the climate conscious milk protein emits up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions and up to 94% less water compared to that of traditional dairy milk.
Perfect Day has secured $750m in funding so far, and has also created a line of chocolate bars for Mars.
Nestlé’s plant-based trajectory
Although Nestle’s portfolio has traditionally been dairy-centric, the brand is actively exploring sustainable alternatives.
It has already forayed in the plant-based food industry with its European Garden Gourmet brand and its US subsidiary Sweet Earth.
The food giant also made direct investments into Sundial Foods – a California based vegan startup mimicking chicken products with skin and bones.
Last year, Nestlé released KitKat V in select markets. It took the brand two years to perfect the vegan recipe of its classic KitKat bar at its York, United Kingdom facility.
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