We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton at StoneX.
Study says more than 70% of consumers want breakthrough cheese in their shopping baskets
Precision-fermentation company Formo and the University of Bath have co-published the first large-scale study of consumer acceptance for animal-free dairy products.
Researchers surveyed 5,054 individuals from Brazil, Germany, India, the UK, and the US to understand what consumers think of animal-free dairy products.
Precision fermentation is a process that allows specific proteins to be produced via microorganisms. By inserting a copied stretch of cow DNA, microorganisms produce milk proteins. The process is more efficient than using animals to make proteins and avoids the negative side effects of industrial animal agriculture, which is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, show consumers around the world are ready for cheese made from real milk proteins produced by microorganisms. Across countries and age groups, 79% of consumers are willing to try precision-fermentation-derived dairy cheese, with 71% willing to pay for such products. Across dietary preferences, flexitarians showed the highest levels of enthusiasm for these products.
“Just as we have seen plant-based milk taking an increasing share of the milk market in recent years, we now see that consumers are ready for a new kind of animal-free dairy cheese product,” Christopher Bryant, PhD, of the University of Bath, said.
“Seeing the growing consumer groups of flexitarians and young people driving adoption of animal-free cheese is a big indicator that these products will appeal to consumers far beyond the niche markets of current vegan cheese.”
Findings highlighted that consumers understood the big taste improvements over current vegan cheese-alternative products, while also showing consumers across countries recognized the environmental and ethical advantages of animal-free dairy, which causes 85-97% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional dairy.
“Most cheese lovers think current vegan cheeses are nowhere near the flavor or functionality level that meets their cheese needs,” said Oscar Zollman Thomas, Formo’s lead researcher on the project.
“Precision fermentation is allowing us to fundamentally change that and make real cheese without animals involved.”
This was reflected in another major finding of the research: those who currently eat the most cheese were the most likely to want to buy animal-free dairy cheese.
“That finding was explosive because that’s always how we’ve understood the mission: Initiating change not through consumer sacrifice, but rather through delicious, satisfying products,” said Zollman Thomas.
“We’re hearing loud and clear that consumers are ready to embrace animal-free dairy products,” said Raffael Wohlgensinger, co-founder & CEO at Formo.
“There’s never been a better time to ask ourselves what we want from our food system and it's now that politicians should support sustainable innovation like precision fermentation. Where the future of food is concerned, fast-moving environments like the US and Singapore are starting to become hubs of innovation, so it’s high time politicians here got on board with the potential of alternative proteins through proactive initiatives.”
Danone announces certification of its specialized nutrition production site in Brazil
Danone’s specialized nutrition plant in Poços de Caldas in Brazil, which produces milk formula and medical nutrition products, is the company’s first production site in the world to meet its sustainability goals across three environmental areas of carbon, water and waste.
The site has been certified by the Carbon Trust, an independent global climate change and sustainability consultancy, as carbon neutral, zero-waste to landfill and reducing water consumption, as part of Danone’s broader ambition to achieve water circularity.
Edson Higo, CEO of Danone Brazil, said, “Danone has had sustainability at its core since day one, as reflected in our investment into local communities, the commitment of our employees, and our collaboration with partners. We are proud that this work has been certified by the Carbon Trust with this triple certification in Poços de Caldas and look forward to the next steps on our journey to achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050.”
In collaboration with employees and external partners, the company said it curbed carbon emissions by operating fully on renewable electricity, part of which is generated by the 1,500 solar panels covering parking lots and walkways at the plant. The remaining direct carbon emissions of the plant as well as those resulting from employee commutes have been fully offset by supporting conservation projects developed by BioFilica, a Brazilian company focused on forest management and conservation.
It also reduces water consumption and ensures water self-sufficiency. Danone said it aims to preserve water resources where it operates and ensuring water circularity in and around its production sites. The Poços de Caldas site has installed a rainwater collection and treatment system, harvesting around 4m liters of rainwater per year, to ensure the site is self-sufficient with regards to its water needs.
To achieve zero-waste to landfill, the production site has minimized its waste generation and then separated it into defined streams to maximize recycling and ensure 100% of all waste generated is recovered.
The certifications of the Poços de Caldas plant are part of a wider set of actions taken by Danone Brazil to meet its sustainability goals. These actions led to Danone Brazil becoming the first large food and beverage company in Brazil to obtain the B Corp certification in March 2021.
Higo said, “Danone Brazil’s B Corp certification and the achievement at our Specialized Nutrition production site are key milestones in our journey to meet company-wide environmental goals, but not the final destination.”
PACCOR launches PLAST:IQ awareness campaign
A key aspect of plastic waste is that many types of plastic are not properly identified during sorting and therefore recycled, but simply end up in landfills or incinerated. To ensure that plastic is recognized in the recycling process and does not get lost, PACCOR has launched its PLAST:IQ campaign.
“I am sure that we will make the PLAST:IQ Revolution a success because we have convincing arguments - and because this revolution is positive and constructive," said Andreas Schuette, CEO of PACCOR.