The story starts with two vegans who were frustrated by the lack of quality options in the realm of dairy alternatives. These two men, Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, also both happened to be bioengineers. With a common goal and investigative research, the duo developed an animal protein alternative that contains no animal products. From there, Perfect Day was born.
Actually, the company began under the name Muufri, changing to Perfect Day in 2016. The company explains, “Our new name was inspired by a study by dairy scientists that discovered cows produce more milk when listening to the song “Perfect Day,” by Lou Reed. For a company on a mission to make cows, people, and the planet happier, it was a perfect ﬁt.”
Although the original inspiration stemmed from a desire for more palatable dairy alternatives, the mission of the company now centers around a triad of health, sustainability, and compassion.
Through microbial fermentation, the company scaled an existing technology that can be used in a variety of industries from food to agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biologics, textiles, and personal care. Using microflora, the company’s flagship product was released as the world’s first precision fermentation protein. It offers the benefits of animal protein without relying on cows. In fact, developing the protein that so closely resembles that produced by cows, didn’t involve cows at all. In order to rebuild the DNA sequence required, they could have sourced a cheek swab or piece of hair, but they didn’t since the DNA sequence was readily available online.
The technology itself is not new. In fact, it’s been used for over five decades in the pharmaceutical and supplement industries. Common food ingredients such as Citric acid and vanillin are made the same way.
Collaboration is at the heart of the Perfect Day mission, partnering with an assortment of companies with similar goals. Natreve, the world’s first plastic and carbon-neutral wellness company, stands as an example of these shared values. Using Perfect Day’s proprietary whey protein, Natreve released the MOOLESS protein powder to the sports nutrition market. The whey is molecularly identical to conventional whey and offers similar health benefits. The production process, however, is very different. The company reports, “An ISO-compliant, third-party reviewed life cycle assessment (LCA) found that Perfect Day’s whey protein reduces blue water consumption by up to 99%, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 97%, and non-renewable energy use by up to 60%, compared to conventional production methods.”
That’s not too surprising when you think about the process of traditional agriculture and livestock management. Creating a product in a fermentation tank means significantly fewer water requirements than sprinkler systems and water troughs on farms. In addition, it reduces the amount of natural blue water being consumed at the plant and animal levels. Even plant-based products require high water consumption through the growth cycle — they’re better than the problems caused by cows, but not ideal for the planet moving forward. There’s the fact that fermentation tanks don’t expel greenhouse gas emissions and are highly energy-efficient compared to traditional milk production practices.
Another partner, California Performance Co., launched a similar ready-to-mix whey product into international markets. Other partners include My Protein, Mars, Incorporated, Modern Kitchen, Brave Robot, Betterland Milk, Bored Cow, Nick’s, Graeter’s, Villa Dolce, Moo and Strive. Through these partnerships, Perfect Day protein can be found in over 5,000 stores across the United States.
Perfect Day products are identical to traditional milk in makeup and nutritional value. Products made with the protein spread and scoop like dairy, too. However, it is lacking some things — mainly cholesterol and lactose — since it is free of both. They are also void of hormones and antibiotics. Note, the protein is a milk allergen for those who are sensitive.
The company’s goals are bigger than the resulting products. Perfect Day hopes to change the way food is produced. At the base, it’s about using science to replicate nature — in more efficient ways. Made through fermentation, similar to the process of making beer or wine, instead of in fields, means requiring a small fraction of the space needed for traditional dairy production. Perfect Day sees this as a solution for the high impact of modern agriculture.
In addition, the technology invites resource conservation. It’s dairy without feeding the dairy cow, watering the fields and animals, and without the methane produced by livestock.
Perfect Day feels the science it uses to develop animal replacement proteins is just the beginning of what the technology has to offer. Replicating nature through science has the potential to roll into a variety of other industries such as apparel and other textiles. Sticking with the food industry, however, Perfect Day sees the potential for continued research and development that offers the path forward in sustainable, healthy and resilient food production that can provide for the current and future generations with a significantly lower impact on the environment.
Images via Perfect Day