Israeli startup Remilk aims to revolutionize dairy world in bid to create greener planet
Without using a single cow, Remilk aims to create dairy products ‘that are better for humans, for cows and for our planet’
By ILANIT CHERNICK
Milk and dairy are an important staple in most people’s diets worldwide, along with being a main source of vitamin D, but producing it comes at a price to both the environment and the planet.
Israeli startup Remilk is aiming to revolutionize the dairy world “by creating real dairy without using a single cow.”
Speaking to IsraelNewsStand Remilk’s CEO and co-founder Aviv Wolff said the company was founded in 2019 with “the mission to stop using animals to produce our food.”
“As dairy lovers, we realize that giving up on milk is not an option, and we’re far from being the first ones to be obsessed,” he said. “In fact, traces of cow milk protein were discovered on the teeth of prehistoric farmers, daring to reimagine food by domesticating farm animals, and ensuring a stable supply of nutritious meat and milk was always at hand.”
Wolff explained that cow’s milk has since become a staple ingredient in the human diet, “ours included, and we have no intention of changing that.”
“But today’s milk comes with an unreasonable price tag,” he stressed, adding that “the dairy industry is destructive to our planet, our health, and our animals, and is simply not sustainable anymore.”
Asked about how the process of making their dairy products work, Wolff said that it’s very simple.
“We take the gene that encodes for the milk protein,” he continued. “The gene functions as an instruction book for the production of the protein it encodes. And so, we insert the gene into a microbe that we’ve developed and it instructs our microbe to produce the specific protein in a very efficient and scalable way.”
“This process,” he said, “is called microbial fermentation, and it has been used commercially since the 1980s to produce human insulin, growth hormone, enzymes, and various other proteins.”
From there, the Remilk team then take the fermented proteins and formulates them into all kinds of dairy products that are “identical to regular dairy products, with the same taste, texture, stretchiness, meltiness, with no cholesterol and no lactose.”
Discussing the effectiveness of this technology, Wolff told IsraelNewsStand that it’s much more efficient.
“We’ve basically ported the whole mechanism of producing milk into a single-cell microbe. We don’t need the ‘rest of the cow’, and we surely don’t need to spend resources in the process of creating a 900 kilograms animal,” he explained. “We believe that the cost of fermented proteins will be a few times cheaper by the next several years compared to existing animal proteins.”
According to Wolff, this means that modern food products will soon be of higher quality and cost less to produce than the animal-derived products they replace.
“This is an absolute game-changer for the entire industry,” he stressed. “This model of food production will, in fact, require only 1% of the land compared to the existing dairy system, 4% of the feedstock, 5% of the time, and 10% of the water – an easy battle given that the dairy industry has to spoil more than a thousand liters of water to produce only 1 liter of milk – that’s the amount of water used in 17 average showers, for only 1 liter of milk.”
Discussing how Remilk’s products could also be a game-changer for countries facing food security problems, Wolff explained that once the costs “decline below the production costs of old dairy [products], there will be a huge potential in ensuring food security around the world.”
“The advances of microbial fermentation will combine an entirely new model of food production,” he pointed out. “This model will be remarkably more efficient but will also ensure a production system that is completely decentralized and much more stable and resilient to seasonality, weather, pandemic, and other natural, economic, and political factors.”
When it comes to Remilk revolutionizing the dairy world, Wolff stressed that in such a critical time for our planet, “each one of us should contribute his part in our struggle against the climate crisis.”
“As individuals, we can all do more,” he said. “By being more aware of the implications of our diet, our transportation, our consumption.”
He emphasized that Remilk aims to play its part “by creating dairy products that are better for humans, for cows and for our planet.”Although the products are not yet commercially available, Wolff concluded that their aim for 2021 is to “optimize their process in order to reach commercial viability.”