Dairy-free ice cream with lab-grown protein by Cork company goes on sale

Perfect Day’s yeast product identical to dairy protein in texture, taste and nutritional value

Perfect Day’s ice cream is dairy free, made with a lab-grown protein

Perfect Day’s ice cream is dairy free, made with a lab-grown protein

 

A Cork-born biotechnology company has begun selling an ice cream free of animal products, which has been developed using a lab-grown protein.

Perfect Day got its start five years ago by participating in a Cork city-based accelerator programme backed by entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den star Sean O’Sullivan.

It has developed a synthetic product that uses bioengineered yeast to produce a protein that is genetically identical to dairy protein through fermentation. This means that foods produced using the protein have the same nutrition, texture and taste of conventional dairy products.

While the company was initially focussed on producing cow-free milk, the limited-edition synthetic ice cream is the first of the company’s products to hit the shelves. It quickly sold out of limited-edition bundles of milky chocolate, vanilla salted fudge and vanilla blackberry toffee ice cream, which were retailing for $60 last week.

“Our goal has always been impact – to pave the way for a kinder, greener planet,” said Perumal Gandhi, co-founder of Perfect Day. “The best way to achieve this will be to work with food companies that already purchase huge amounts of dairy ingredients. While our B2B deals come to fruition, we are eager to share our progress with the world.”

Formerly known as Muufri, the company was founded when Mr Gandhi and his co-founder Ryan Pandya came together five years ago to apply for RebelBio, the world’s first life sciences accelerator programme, which was initiated and run by entrepreneur Mr O’Sullivan’s venture capital firm, SOSV.

The start-up was part of the first cohort selected to take part in the 2015 accelerator, which moved to London last year due to what SOSV described as a lack of backing from partners in Ireland.

The company received about $50,000 (€44,361) in seed funding when it joined the accelerator, and was given lab space at University College Cork and guidance from entrepreneurs such as Mr O’Sullivan and CoderDojo co-founder and SOSV partner Bill Liao.

Perfect Day, which is headquartered in California, has since gone on to raise more than $60 million in investment, as it looks to bring a range of synthetic animal-free dairy products to market.

“What we’re doing here is completely new to the world,” said Mr Panda, Perfect Day’s chief executive. “We wanted our first debut to be under the care of our own brand, so that we could demonstrate the consumer benefits inherent to our protein, while starting a conversation about this new approach to making food.”