A new company is using our science and innovation to make animal-free dairy products a reality.

Animal-free dairy? How is that even possible?

Picture this: You’re at the café ordering for yourself and your friends. “I’ll have a lactose-free flat white, an almond milk latte, a soy cappuccino and a macchiato with a dash of oat milk,” you say. The barista sighs inwardly.

animal-free dairy

CSIRO and Eden Brew researchers at CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre

Fortunately, it’s going to get a lot easier to order coffees that meet your friends’ preferences. All you’ll need to do in the future is name the type of coffee and ask for it with Eden Brew.

Eden Brew is a start-up company we’re a part of that’s developing animal-free dairy products. They’re aiming for that creamy, frothy deliciousness we know, while also being lactose and cholesterol-free.

This is the first company of its kind in Australia. The science behind it draws on our expertise in flavour, texture and precision fermentation.

How to make milk without a cow

Researchers at our Food Innovation Centre in Victoria are perfecting the product ahead of an expected launch late in 2022.

Working with our yeast synthetic biology researchers and the National Biologics Facility, they begin with a yeast and then produce proteins using fermentation. For centuries, people have used fermentation to make cheese, yoghurt, beer and wine. But in this case, the fermentation is more precise. With this process, our researchers can produce the same casein and whey proteins found in cow’s milk. These proteins form the base which we combine with minerals, sugars, fats and flavours to create a glass of milk.

Animal-free milk is complementary – not competitive – to dairy

animal-free dairy, milkEden Brew provides another option for consumers in the growing number of alternative protein products, both meat and dairy. Many of these cater to consumers wanting more sustainable, plant-based or allergen-free alternatives. In 2019, Dairy Australia reported that milk substitutes made up about 9.2 per cent of the dairy market in Australia.

That’s the reason for the formation of the new company by Australia’s largest dairy co-op, Norco, venture capital firm, Main Sequence and CSIRO.

Norco is 100 per cent farmer-owned so their involvement in Eden Brew makes sense. They are getting behind a new innovation that offers more choice to consumers.

Eden Brew was formed through our Company Creation team and our Future Protein Mission. Company Creation brings together the founders (science, investor, entrepreneur and industry) required to build companies that can take science and technology innovation to market at pace.

Our Missions program tackles big global challenges and our Future Protein Mission aims to grow Australia’s protein industry by $10 billion by 2027.

A similar approach was taken in 2019 when plant-based protein company v2food was formed, backed by our science. In just two and a half years, the value of v2food has increased significantly.

Therefore, if Eden Brew follows a similar trajectory, then profits will go directly back to Norco’s 292 dairy farmers. They will be able to continue investing in their communities and ensure there’s a future for generations of dairy farmers. Our organisation also stands to benefit, and any equity we earn will be invested back into science to support the industry.

Eden Brew has its sights set on a range of animal-free dairy products in the future. In 2023 that double shot, extra hot, animal-free dairy cappuccino with extra froth on the side and two sugars is going to taste great.

27 comments

  1. Milk is gluten free. If this milk is wheat based will be a problem for someone who is a celiac.

    1. Hi Robyn, Eden Brew’s product is not wheat-based so it will not be a problem for celiacs.

      Thanks,
      Team CSIRO

  2. I have no problems with the technology – it looks great. I’m not a milk consumer except in the form of cheese or ( occasionally) ice cream. Generally, I feel that cows’s milk is meant for little cows. I also believe that coffee should only be drunk black. However, if it can encourage more people to get the requisite intake of calcium to keep bones strong and keep osteoporosis at bay, then I’m all for it. If you can produce a concentrate to be consumed in the form of a daily capsule, so much the better. It seems a much better idea than these fake milks available on the market (e.g., almond, soy etc.).

    I do have a problem from a marketing point of view. If the company is owned by dairy farmers, there will always be a conflict in terms of market cannibalization. Which product – natural cow’s milk or synthetic milk do you promote? How much promotion do you assign to each product? How will dairy farmers feel if the synthy stuff sells better than the real deal? How will they explain it to the girls out in the paddock when they line up for their turn in the milking shed?

  3. Wonderful work! There seems to be no limit to what people can get yeast to do.

  4. I’d be interested to learn how people at CSIRO decide what to research and develop with an aim to commercialisation. Is this by individual scientists with a light bulb moment? or trying to replicate something that had been successfully achieved overseas? or something CSIRO thinks would be a commercial success in Australia/region? Also, is there a website where CSIRO tracks the success or otherwise of the commercialisation of its researched products and the profitability of its private partnerships?

  5. Sounds great! What’s the water footprint compared to dairy and nut milks please?

    1. Hi Heremaia, thanks for your comment. We don’t know the water footprint yet, but we will measure it. We assume Eden Brew will have a much lower water footprint than cow’s milk.

      Thanks,
      Team CSIRO

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