Auckland-based startup Daisy Lab has developed what the company describes as a groundbreaking technology that produces dairy-identical proteins without cows, utilising yeast and a process called precision fermentation.

This cutting-edge technology has been successfully employed in various industries, including the production of enzymes and flavourings for the food sector, but Daisy Lab believes that many of the dairy proteins can be produced this way. The first protein to scale was beta-lactoglobulin – the most common protein in cow’s whey. Daisy Lab is developing other dairy proteins, including high-value and rare lactoferrin.

Over the past 12 months, Daisy Lab has scaled their process from milligram volumes to the production of prototype consumer products such as ice cream, yoghurt, and cream cheese using beta-lactoglobulin.

Now, another significant milestone for Daisy Lab on their journey towards scaling and commercialising their technology having obtained approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to scale their production to a total volume of up to 5,000L. This milestone enables Daisy Lab to proceed with building their first pilot facility.

Similar research is underway overseas, posing a serious threat to our dairy industry. Daisy Lab wants to ensure New Zealand stays at the forefront of dairy protein innovation.

“What sets Daisy Lab apart from our global competitors is that we developed our strains and fermentation protocols with the downstream process in mind,” says Irina Miller, CEO and co-founder of Daisy Lab. “Our fermentation liquid is uniquely suited to be processed using existing industrial dairy equipment, such as decanters, microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes, and spray-dryers.”

Dr Nicole Freed, chief science officer and co-founder, who worked with the EPA to prepare and obtain approval, expressed her excitement about the future opportunities this milestone presents for Daisy Lab. “We invested significant time and resources into preparing our application, and it’s gratifying to see our efforts pay off,” she says. Freed also acknowledged the support received from the EPA in navigating the legislation that regulates genetic technologies in New Zealand. “This is a crucial step forward for Daisy Lab and for precision fermentation technology in New Zealand.”