Don’t have a cow? Perfect Day lifecycle assessment underscores sustainability benefits of animal-free dairy proteins

The  lifecycle assessment​ (LCA) – conducted by consultancy WSP USA and critically reviewed by a panel of independent experts in conformance with ISO Standard 14067 on GHG emissions – showed that Perfect Day’s non-animal whey protein production reduces blue water consumption by 96-99%, and non-renewable energy use by 29-60% vs conventional production methods.

The assessment extends the scope of the LCA the company shared in April​, which showed its animal-free whey generates 62-97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than whey from cows.

While the figure at the top end of the scale presupposes that there is a market for the nutrient-rich co-product of the fermentation process, which accounts for a sizeable percentage (78.3%) of the biomass by dry weight, the gap in GHG emissions between fermentation-based and animal-based production remains significant even if this co-product ends up as waste, according to the LCA.

“The co-product is high in proteins and other components (e.g., vitamins, minerals) that make it valuable for domesticated pet food, and it will be sold to this market. The co-product is dried using a natural gas-powered dryer before it is sold.”

The primary driver of GHG emissions for Perfect Day whey protein is utilities (natural gas and electricity), which contribute 40% to total GHG emissions. After utilities, the protein development phase –  due to the production of glucose via starch hydrolysis – contributes 25% to total GHG emissions.  

How is the animal-free whey protein made?

Rather than raising farm animals, companies in the ‘precision fermentation’ space such as Perfect Day use DNA sequences which function like strings of computer code to instruct host micro-organisms (fungi, yeast, bacteria etc) to produce specific animal proteins when fed with sugars and other nutrients in big fermentation vessels, a technology that has been used in the food industry for years to produce everything from beta-carotene to vitamin B2.

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