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Food and beverage major Nestlé is to trial a line of animal-free dairy drinks in six US San Francisco grocery outlets under the Cowabunga brand.

The range will be available in two flavours – milk and chocolate – and contains animal-free protein made by US start-up Perfect Day. The lactose-free duo will be marketed as ‘beverages’ rather than milk drinks, and are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.

The Cowabunga products will be trialed at select Safeway stores in the San Francisco Bay area. An SRP for the line was not immediately available.

“We’re excited to share that Nestlé will begin testing its new Cowabunga Animal-Free Dairy Beverages, made with Perfect Day’s sustainable, animal-free whey protein,”Perfect Day wrote on social media. “We’re proud to make a greener future a reality by stocking the shelves with delicious, sustainable products.”

Nestlé first announced plans to develop animal-free dairy products in September, partnering with Perfect Day through its newly-established US R+D Accelerator.

At the time, Nestlé suggested the tie-up complemented investments it has made in plant-based meat and dairy-alternative offerings over the years to “meet the growing consumer demand for nutritious, more environmentally friendly diets that also taste great”.

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Set up in 2014 by Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi as an animal-free ingredients business, Perfect Day claims its protein, made through precision fermentation, is identical to the whey protein found in cow’s milk and offers good nutritional and functionality benefits. It is suitable for vegans and is lactose-free. Perfect Day has secured $750m in funding since its creation in 2014, and has also created a line of chocolate bars for Mars.

Animal-free dairy is created through a fermentation process like brewing beer. The yeast in the fermentation tanks has been engineered to produce dairy proteins, which are later extracted and then turned into dairy products like ice cream and cheese.

Last month, Unilever announced it was developing a “cow-free dairy” alternative with start-ups in Europe, and could launch a product of its own next year.

“Our grandchildren won’t believe we consumed milk from cows” – Just Food explores the outlook for animal-free dairy