Acceptance of animal-free milk products is growing
Producing animal-based products is a very resource-intensive process. And for a wide variety of reasons, some people refrain from eating meat and/or dairy products. This is why companies are conducting more research into “animal-free” animal products. With the help of precision fermentation, it will soon be possible to produce dairy products, such as cheese, without using animals. An international survey has shown that consumers are increasingly willing to accept such products.
Friday, October 22, 2021
Agriculture is responsible for up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these emissions result from livestock farming. But many people are still unable to afford any meat or dairy products at all. As developing and emerging countries are becoming more prosperous, however, demand for animal products is growing. We need alternatives to animal protein so that emissions from livestock farming will not continue to increase. At the same time, consumers must be willing to purchase such products. As the website “EurekAlert!” reports, the University of Bath and the Formo company, which specializes in precision fermentation, have jointly conducted a survey to assess consumers’ willingness to accept “animal-free” milk products. The survey included several thousand people in Brazil, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. It found that across all of these countries and all age groups, the willingness to try or purchase animal-free cheese is relatively great. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents indicated that they were interested in trying such products, and 71 percent said that they would be open to purchasing them.
Up to 97 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions
Precision fermentation is a process by which microorganisms can be used to produce proteins. By inserting a copy of a sequence of cow DNA, these microorganisms create milk proteins. This procedure is believed to be more efficient and environmentally friendly than livestock farming. It produces up to 97 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional milk production. Acceptance of plant-based milk has grown over the past few years, and now consumers seem to be ready for animal-free milk products, according to Dr. Christopher Bryant of the University of Bath. Results show that consumers recognize the superior taste of these products, compared with vegan cheese, as well as their benefits for the environment and the climate.
In 2019, FoodAktuell asked the interesting question of whether the “disruption of the cow” is coming, and explained what (precision) fermentation is all about.
People have long known about fermentation, the microbial or enzymatic transformation of organic materials, as a random process. Today standardized or industrialized fermentation plays a crucial role in processing many kinds of foods, such as wine, cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, chocolate and sauerkraut.
Examples of the use of precision fermentation in producing ingredients or enzymes include the production of insulin, rennet for making cheese, a variety of sweeteners, aromas and vitamins, as well as the production of steviol glycosides at Evolva for the Cargill company, the production of heme from soy, which is used to make Impossible Burgers, and the production of nutrient solutions for growing meat from cell cultures.
The reduced use of plant protection products is causing much smaller wheat and rapeseed harvests. A study carried out by Swiss Agricultural Research reveals that such crop failures can only be offset by state subsidies. This is neither sustainable nor resource-efficient.
The economic interdependence of the world has increased greatly over the past years and decades. Due to the brisk trade activity between the continents, invasive plant and animal species are also spreading faster and faster. This can lead to serious problems for native vegetation and agriculture. According to the FOEN, the canton of Ticino is particularly affected.
Invasive pests and plant diseases are among the greatest challenges for biodiversity and agriculture. They often enter Switzerland via travel and imported goods and cause great damage to cultivated and wild plants. Since 2020, the import of plants from non-EU countries is prohibited. However, introduced pests are a worldwide problem.
The Japanese beetle was first discovered in Switzerland in 2017 in Ticino. Now it has made it to the northern side of the Alps. After being found in Basel-Stadt and Solothurn, a larger population of the beetles has been found in Kloten for the first time. They are controlled with traps, but also pesticides.