Australian food tech start-up Eden Brew says it will have animal-free dairy ready for market by 2024. The founders are Australia’s largest dairy co-op Norco, Main Sequence – the deep tech venture fund of CSIRO, and seasoned FMCG specialist Jim Fader.
Eden Brew says it has pioneered a way of creating dairy milk using precision fermentation rather than the traditional four-legged bovine supplier.
Precision fermentation is regarded as the third technological pillar of the alternative protein sector.
Using science from CSIRO, it has found a way to produce the same proteins found in cow’s milk. Most of the protein in cow’s milk forms into tiny cages called micelles. These cages are loaded with calcium designed to deliver nutrients as well as giving milk its unique characteristics, including its white colour.
Eden Brew has pioneered a way of creating casein micelles without the cow. Essentially, precision fermentation has enabled to team to ‘brew’ milk.
“The result will be animal-free dairy with a frothing, creamy, milky taste. It will have all of the good stuff, without the cow. No lactose, no cholesterol and low allergenicity,” it said.
Co-founders with clout
Eden Brew was formed under CSIRO’s deep tech venture fund Main Sequence’s venture science model, which starts by identifying a global challenge, and brings together science and industry to solve it. The company is backed by $4 million in funding, technology and industry expertise from Main Sequence, Norco and CSIRO.
Main Sequence partner and Eden Brew co-founder Phil Morle said Eden Brew has been designed to succeed.
“Our planet will be faced with challenges around producing enough food to feed the growing world population. We have an opportunity with Eden Brew to pioneer a new food category and create a product that serves today’s consumers’ hunger and need for more options.
“Eden Brew’s technology delivers an authentic animal-free dairy product and with CSIRO and Norco’s support, we’ll soon be ready to take the Australian dairy industry to the next level.
“Protein alternatives are gaining global traction with consumers, the industry, and producers taking notice of the environmental and health benefits they present. With a record-setting US$3.1 billion invested in alternative proteins in 2020, we see significant market potential for Eden Brew,” Morle said.
Australia’s largest dairy cooperative Norco has backed Eden Brew, with CEO Michael Hampson one of the co-founders. Hampson said the coop’s involvement was about being at the forefront of innovation and food science, building scientific expertise and building a secure and sustainable future for its 292 dairy farmer members.
“Norco has been producing award-winning dairy products for 126 years. Our involvement in Eden Brew as a co-founder provides us with the opportunity to access new, cutting edge technology, educate and engage our people around new ways of looking at dairy and protein development, and developing alternative revenue streams for our farmer members so that Norco can continue to provide value to its members for another 126 years,” Hampson said.
Norco farmers are shareholders of Eden Brew, so profits will go directly back to Australian dairy farmers to continue investing in their farms and support their local communities.
Eden Brew co-founder and CEO Jim Fader has more than 20 years’ experience in FMCG and retail. Prior to joining Main Sequence and launching Eden Brew, Fader was general manager of FoodCo Fresh for Woolworths.
He said that in order to meet the challenge of feeding 10 billion people sustainably by 2050, we need new and innovative ways of transforming our food system.
“The national milk production pool is continuing to drop due to the ongoing effects of droughts and high input costs. We need a way to make dairy that doesn’t involve more resources – more cows, more plants, more water. But instead, one that helps mother nature thrive, and supports our dairy industry for years to come.
“Every glass of cow’s milk has the perfect mix of proteins and nutrients to nourish us. We will be able to give consumers a new option by producing the same proteins that give our milk the same great qualities that we’re used to in our morning coffee and cereal. It has the same building blocks of cow’s milk, it’s just made in a different oven,” Fader said.
Eden Brew is currently undergoing prototype testing at CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre in Victoria and is expected to be in market with its first product in the next 18 months.