Artificial Milk Is Coming!
The dairy industry worldwide is rapidly developing and changing day by day. The latest innovation brought by this change is Synthetic milk. No animals are needed in the production of synthetic milk (artificial milk). Although the production of milk goes through the same biochemical processes as animals, biotechnological techniques called ‘sensitive fermentation’ are used to reproduce it.
More than 80% of the world consumes dairy products regularly.
Due to the climate crisis and increasing consumption demand, countries are now in favor of producing more sustainable foods rather than animal-derived foods. Synthetic milk may be a better option in terms of methane gas emissions and animal health, unlike naturally produced milk.
However, synthetic milk must pass many tests in order for it to be released to the market and to be consumed safely. Recent research, on the other hand, can play a key role in solving an important problem of plant-based milk, namely synthetic milk.
In the production of synthetic meats, the taste and texture integrity of real meat is still not fully achieved, but a similarity has been achieved in synthetic milk in terms of smell, taste and appearance.
Now, synthetic milk has emerged from science fiction movies and has revealed its existence today.
For example, in the USA, Perfect Day company supplies non-animal-based protein from microflora used in ice cream making, protein powder and milk making.
Eden Brew, also a startup company, is developing synthetic milk in Australia. The main reason and starting point of the company in developing this product is the role of methane gas from cows in climate change. This project is also supported by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).
Is a new food industry emerging?
Another project, G Foods companies in Australia, raised 25 million Austrian dollars this month and accelerated the production of synthetic dairy products. According to calculations, synthetic milk will be much cheaper than natural milk in 7 years.
If the synthetic dairy industry can maintain its presence in the market, it will change the balance in the dairy industry. These developments can enable humanity to obtain milk with a radical change, unlike traditional milk production methods.
By 2023, this sector will provide employment to 700,000 people with the precision fermentation method in the USA. If synthetic milk can replace dairy products as an ingredient in the industrial food processing industry, this could spell the end of companies producing milk powder.
Realizing this situation, some dairy companies took action to adapt to the change. For example, Australian dairy cooperative Norco has decided to support the Eden Brew project. In addition, Fonterra, New Zealand’s dairy cooperative, announced its interest in the development and marketing of fermented milk and dairy products.
The future of the synthetic dairy industry
If the synthetic dairy industry wants to win against the animal-based dairy industry, they should accelerate their R&D studies and make moves to increase their market share. Of course, such a move requires capital, investment and production infrastructure such as fermentation tanks and bioreactors for its development.
We can safely say that traditional milk production is not going anywhere anytime soon. Developing technology will be of great help to the environment and livestock. This situation will have negative effects as well as positive effects, and companies and their stakeholders involved in traditional milk production will be seriously affected economically.
For example, while non-synthetic alternative proteins do not appear as competitors in the traditional industrial market, it is thought that with the development of synthetic dairy products, the balance in this sector will shift to synthetic dairy products. For this reason, the synthetic milk industry can put many people out of work.
Considering that synthetic milk’s gaining market share and growth in the coming years may cause inequalities in the current food system, it may become necessary to take precautions. As a result, the traditional dairy sector must recognize that it is on the verge of significant change, increase its social benefits and reduce its impact on climate change.
Many problems need to be resolved before these products reach our supermarkets. The economics of production has to work. In order to combine the fermented proteins with other ingredients to replace the milk components, the products have to be reconstituted.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency now declares that milk is produced by an animal. The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet made a policy on the classification of synthetic milk proteins. Milk in Canada is also subject to a supply management system that includes a production quota. Will synthetic casein and whey be subject to the same system? The regulatory environment will require substantial clarification and any change will be vigorously contested by various interests.
Some consumers will attach great importance to the fact that animals are not required to produce these proteins, which creates a vegan, lactose-free product. There will also be the perception that synthetic milk proteins will have a smaller environmental footprint.
Other consumers will have concerns that the proteins are produced using a genetically modified yeast. Despite these uncertainties, we will see synthetic dairy products on the market shelves in a few years.