Nestlé Is Attempting To Further Its Reach With Animal-Free Dairy Products

The emergence of plant-based and other animal-free meat and dairy products could have enormous consequences for the environment. As The Guardian declared in 2018, the development of these two dietary staples is responsible for well over half the world's greenhouse gas emissions — 60%, to be exact — while accounting for an astounding 83% of farmland in use. Fortunately, there has been plenty of positive news of late on both fronts.

According to Market and Markets, the plant-based meat market will nearly double over the next five years, rising from $7.9 billion in 2022 to an estimated $15.7 billion in 2027. Major corporations have already invested in the nascent market sector. Nestlé, for example, announced the purchase of Sweet Earth in 2017, adding the California manufacturer of plant-based frozen meals, breakfast sandwiches, and other products to its portfolio.

More recently, Nestlé has also made an announcement regarding animal-free dairy. Per Just Food, "animal-free dairy" is different from plant-based and lab-made dairy products, and is still largely in the development stage, with few products as yet on supermarket shelves. But it's a market sector that could be primed for major growth in coming years, thanks to an influx of investment dollars.

Nestlé's fast tracks animal-free dairy product

With the recent news that Nestlé is fast-tracking a new animal-free dairy product through its newly created research and development accelerator, the company has established itself as one of the major investors in culinary innovations that don't involve animal products. According to the company's September 12 press release, the product was developed in Switzerland with an animal-free dairy protein sourced from Perfect Day, using the latter's "precision fermentation" technology to create a whey protein identical to the one in cow's milk. The product will be vegan-friendly and lactose-free, with a release date in the U.S. planned by the end of 2022.

Perfect Day is a big player in the animal-free dairy space. The company has collaborated with Coolhaus on animal-free ice cream sandwiches, and has received $750 million in funding since it was founded in 2014. Nestlé has not yet announced the name of its new product, and per the press announcement, confirms that it remains committed to producing traditional milk-based dairy products as well. But Nestlé is "excited" about the possibilities of its new R+D accelerator, which is reportedly capable of bringing newly developed animal-free and plant-based products to market in as little as six months.

"We are exploring emerging technologies that can lead to animal-friendly alternatives that are nutritious and sustainable, without compromising on taste, flavor, and texture," Heike Steiling, Nestlé's head of dairy product development, notes in the press release. Only time will tell how this high-tech vegan dairy product will stack up to other plant-based dairy options on the market.