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Food-tech startup opens world’s largest facility for production of cow-free milk in Denmark

17/06/2022 – Dairy / Remilk / Food-Tech / Denmark / Precision / Fermentation / Proteins

Food-tech startup opens world’s largest facility for production of cow-free milk in Denmark

Remilk has opened the world’s largest precision fermentation facility. The Israeli company’s new plant in Denmark will replace 50,000 cows annually, and produce proteins that are “chemically identical” to milk. 

Founded in 2019, the food-tech startup’s mission was to create dairy that is “healthy, delicious, affordable, and 100-per-cent cruelty-free” and moreover “identical to its traditional counterpart”. 

With the business having raised $120 million in a January 2022 funding round to build its production capabilities, Remilk’s new 70,000-square-metre, game-changing facility is situated on an eco-industrial park in the city of Kalundborg. The site is part of the trailblazing Kalundborg Symbiosis project: a circular approach to production, turning the waste-stream of one company into a valuable resource in another. 

Daring to rethink dairy

“Relying on animals to make our food is no longer sustainable,” according to Aviv Wolff, who stressed that “the implications of animal farming are devastating for our planet”. 

In response to the challenge, Remilk has adopted a dramatically different – and a decidedly more sustainable – way of producing a product that is “chemically identical” to traditional milk. 

Indeed, the innovator’s production process emits up to 97 per cent less greenhouse gases. It also only requires an estimated one per cent of the land, four per cent of the feedstock and less than 10 per cent of the water compared to traditional dairy production – with zero animals harmed.

“Creating real dairy with zero cows sounds like futuristic science, but the method we use to make this magic happen is actually quite ancient,” the company advised. Indeed, the art of Remilk lies in the miracle of fermentation – a process used for generations to make various beverages and food such as beer and bread, and one that is all about using the power of nature (and yeast) to create delicious and sustainable food. “We are now harnessing the same power of fermentation used to produce alcohol and sourdough, to produce the foundations of our food system: proteins,” said the company. 

Here comes the science bit

To broadly outline the production process, Remilk’s scientists copy the gene responsible for the production of milk protein in cows, and insert it into yeast (as in yeast from the same family as those used by brewers and bakers). “What follows is amazing,” the company told us. “The gene acts like a manual, instructing the yeast how to produce our protein in a highly efficient way.”

Remilk then places the yeast in fermenters, where it multiplies rapidly and produces real milk proteins (identical to those that cows produce) – that is, the key building blocks of traditional dairy. These precious proteins are then combined with vitamins, minerals, and non-animal fat and sugar (hence no cholesterol or lactose in Remilk) to form every imaginable dairy product.

“The end result is 100-per-cent similar to ‘real’ milk,” yet free from lactose, cholesterol, growth hormones, and antibiotics, according to Mr Wolff.

Aim to “massive scale-up” production 

In a statement, Remilk’s boss said his company was “committed to reinventing our dairy industry in a kind, sustainable way. Eliminating the need for animals in our food system is the only way to supply our world’s growing demand without destroying it in the process. We intend to massively scale up our production capabilities to make nutritious, delicious and affordable dairy that will send cows into early retirement.”

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