De Novo Dairy Brings Africa To Animal-Free Dairy Movement

De Novo Dairy logo

De Novo Dairy, Africa’s first precision fermentation company, is producing dairy-like milk proteins without using animals. The business, which is based in Cape Town, uses fermentation technology to generate animal-free milk proteins that are molecularly comparable to those found in cow’s milk by using microbial hosts as cell factories. It wants to harness those proteins to make rich, luscious ice cream, melty, stretchy cheese, and healthful yogurt on a large scale.

De Novo was created by a group of young South African entrepreneurs, two of whom had previously worked on insect-based ice cream, but the company has since shifted its focus to animal-free proteins produced by precision fermentation. Jean Louwrens and Leah Bessa co-founded Gourmet Grubb, an insect ice cream company, before forming De Novo Dairy with Richard Grieves and Joni Symon. The researchers discovered that generating proteins using precision fermentation technology was a better technique to getting consumers on board with sustainable proteins during the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Novo’s products aim to provide the same familiar sensory experience and nutritional value as dairy milk while being more ethical and sustainable. Milk proteins are what give dairy milk its taste, texture, and behavior, and De Novo’s products aim to provide the same familiar sensory experience and nutritional value while being more ethical and sustainable. Consumers will be able to enjoy the real flavor, texture, and nutritional value of animal-derived dairy without the factory farming, lactose, hormones, or antibiotics once De Novo’s product pipeline is commercialized.

Animal-Free Dairy Protein

De Novo received an early-stage investment from CULT Food Science, an investment platform that focuses exclusively on cellular agriculture companies that are providing solutions to the ethical and environmental consequences of global factory farming and aquaculture, as a first step toward expanding its platform.

“CULT is excited to add De Novo to its growing portfolio of innovators that are working to change the global food industry for the better. We are keenly interested in De Novo’s work and how it might revolutionize the dairy business and alter consumer demand for traditional dairy products… Finding ways to convert long standing industries that are harmful to animals and the environment into a sustainable alternative is the wave of the future and we at CULT are doing what we can to sponsor this shift through our investments,” stated Lejjy Gafour, President of CULT.

The Growth of Precision Fermentation

De Novo Dairy is the latest addition to a growing list of companies using precision technology to create animal-free dairy proteins. Perfect Day was the first company to use the technique to generate bioidentical whey proteins, making it a pioneer in the growing market. Perfect Day, the most well-funded startup in the space, has evolved into a three-pronged firm to maximize its effect. It not only sells its animal-free proteins to other companies for product development, but it also uses them to make consumer items such as ice cream brands Brave Robot and CoolHaus, as well as cheese brands Modern Kitchen. Perfect Day also provides technology development services to other entrepreneurs in the rapidly growing precision fermentation industry.

Novel Culture in San Francisco is working on a dairy-like vegan mozzarella after finding a new way to generate casein—another protein found in cow’s milk—using a precise fermentation process that allows it to make “real cow cheese without the cow.” The company raised $25 million in a Series A fundraising round last year to help bring its groundbreaking animal-free cheese to market, beginning with a few pizzerias.

Remilk, an Israeli business, uses microbial fermentation to make animal-free milk proteins for a base that’s similar to dairy milk but doesn’t contain any animal-derived elements. The company’s commercial partners then make dairy-like goods including yogurt, cheese, and cream.

“Today’s non-dairy alternatives address environmental and health concerns but universally fail to create authentic dairy-based products, like cheese… We’re bridging this gap by making dairy products with dairy proteins, without needing a single cow,” stated Remilk co-founder and CEO, Aviv Wolff.




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