ARTICLE

Perfect Day Raises $140M to make Animal-Free Milk Proteins

Perfect Day announced that they raised an enormous $140 million in their Series C funding round. Based in Berkeley, Perfect Day is a startup that uses cellular agriculture to produce animal-free dairy proteins. By designing flora to produce the same dairy proteins found in milk from a cow, Perfect Day can make the same milk. Without the cow.

Perfect Day’s Series C round was led by the Temasek. The round also included substantial investment from previous investors, including Horizons Ventures, who co-led Perfect Day’s Series B funding round of $34.75 million with Temasek and ADM Ventures. Temasek also led Perfect Day’s Series A round of $24.7 million in February 2018.

Considering that Temasek usually does not invest early rounds, it is a strong sign of their confidence in Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy products to change the future of food as the Singaporean firm continues to lead Perfect Day’s investing rounds.

The latest round of funding brings Perfect Day’s total funding to $201.5 million.

Perfect Day is the first cellular agriculture food company to raise a Series C funding round. It is also the largest round raised by any cellular agriculture food company. The previous largest funding round was Motif Foodworks’ Series A financing, including a $27.5 million Series A extension round in August 2019.

Animal Free Dairy Protein

Perfect Day is the first startup to use acellular agriculture to produce any animal-free food product. Founded by Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, Perfect Day was also co-founded by New Harvest Executive Director Isha Datar, who connected Pandya and Gandhi.

The three co-founders joined the first class of a new biotech accelerator in Ireland called SynBio Axlr8r, now known as RebelBio. RebelBio is one of the leading life science accelerators managed by SOSV, a venture capital firm which also manages IndieBio, where many other cellular agriculture startups first began.

By producing dairy proteins directly from cells, Perfect Day offers a more sustainable and less resource-intensive way to produce the same dairy proteins found in milk from a cow. One of the reasons why Pandya and Gandhi first started Perfect Day was their dissatisfaction with the quality of animal-free dairy alternatives on the market. They just didn’t have the same taste, texture, and functionality as conventional dairy products, like cream cheese.

There had to be a better way. Enter cellular agriculture and Perfect Day.

Ending the Perfect Year

Perfect Day’s funding announcement marks off another incredible year for the company.

In February 2019, Perfect Day became one of the first cellular agriculture companies to raise their Series B round by raising $34.75 million to help scale the company.

In July, Perfect Day made history by showcasing and launching the first ever animal-free dairy ice cream. With the limited release of their ice cream, Perfect Day became the first cellular agriculture company to release a food product to market.

Perfect Day also recently announced plans to start developing animal fats, specifically milk fats. While many dairy alternatives use plant-based fats (like coconut or palm oil) to mimic the flavors of dairy fats, they don’t have the same functionality of animal-derived fats. It will be important for Perfect Day to develop their own milk fats to ensure that their dairy products have the same taste and texture profile as conventional dairy products.

Along with the funding announcement, Perfect Day released several images highlighting that their flora-based dairy proteins can be used to create a range of products. From coffee milk froth to a glass of milk to different types of cheese (like mozzarella, feta, and cream cheese), the range of products highlight how versatile Perfect Day’s dairy proteins can be.

The Future of Dairy by Perfect Day

Instead of launching another product like their ice cream, Perfect Day plans to become an ingredients supplier to companies in the food and beverage industry to bring their flora-based dairy products to market.

In this way, by being an ingredients supplier, Perfect Day aims to be like the Intel of the food space. A credible, reputable brand name found in many products that stands for a nutritious, high-quality protein product.

To support that goal, in November 2018, Perfect Day announced a partnership with Archer Daniels Midland company to help scale production of their dairy proteins. Perfect Day aims to make thousands of tons of their proteins by 2022. They currently make tens of tons.

Conclusion

As the first company to launch a food cellular agriculture product, it’s fitting that Perfect Day’s first product was the first food product available to the public (albeit for a limited release). Perfect Day now plans to continue their commercialization efforts.

Perfect Day plans to use the new funding to accelerate Perfect Day’s business growth, including expanding production capacity, extending their product portfolio, and exploring new partnership opportunities. Perfect Day shared that the startup will announce new commercial partnerships in 2020 to expand manufacturing and commercialization in multiple continents.

Since Perfect Day’s launch in 2014, other companies have emerged looking to use cellular agriculture to develop animal-free dairy products. New Culture is the second startup after Perfect Day focusing only on animal-free dairy products. In September 2019, New Culture raised their seed round of $3.5 million to produce animal-free mozzarella cheese.

Another company, Motif FoodWorks, is a spinoff from synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks looking to produce animal proteins, such as dairy proteins, to improve the flavor and texture of plant-based products.

TurtleTree Labs, a new cellular agriculture startup in Singapore, has a different approach to making milk: cell-based dairy milk. They plan to grow mammary gland cells that will produce the same mammalian milk directly. TurtleTree Labs initially plans to produce human breast milk before focusing on other mammalian milks, including dairy milk.