The Irish Times

How synthetic milk may put cows out of business
The Irish Times

Amid all the post-milk quota hoopla, there is one firm whose production ambition would barely stretch to a bowl of cornflakes.

US start-up Muufri may be sitting on the biggest dairy market disruptor in decades, however – milk, but without the cow or the carbon footprint. The company has worked out a relatively cost-effective way of synthesising milk in the lab.

The process uses bioengineered yeast to produce real milk protein. This is done by adding cow DNA to yeast cells, which are then combined in vats with fatty acids and water to produce milk.

The product is no milk substitute either; it is said to taste exactly like the real thing. The ingredients can also be tweaked to be lower in cholesterol or lactose-free, a significant marketing potential in today’s fat-conscious marketplace.

Muufri, which recently availed of an accelerator programme for start-ups in Cork, is currently perfecting a final prototype, with a plan to go to market in 2017. When it hits the shelves, the product is expected to cost twice the price of normal milk. Its milk is just one of a string of synthetic or value-added dairy products being developed for the global market. Population growth; rising disposable income; more women in the workforce; urbanisation; the adoption of Western dietary habits are all fuelling strong demand for dairy across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Rabobank predicts global demand will eclipse supply by 25 billion litres by 2020 – a trade gap that exporting countries, like Ireland, will be keen to exploit.

Quotas de taxis, quotas de musique francophone à la radio, quotas de lait… L’évolution technologique est en train de venir à bout de cette veille économie sclérosée !