Mars launches animal-free chocolate with Perfect Day’s whey protein

21 Jun 2022

Mars has launched a vegan chocolate bar made with biotech unicorn Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein made via precision fermentation.

The chocolate bar, called CO2COA in a reference to the reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with its ingredient sourcing, is vegan, free from lactose and cholesterol, and wrapped in paper-based packaging. It bears a front-of-pack claim saying: ‘Made with animal-free dairy’.

Mars launches animal-free chocolate with Perfect Day’s whey protein
CO2COA™, introduced by Mars, is a sustainability inspired animal-free, planet-friendly chocolate innovation in partnership with Perfect Day.

The chocolate bar, called CO2COA in a reference to the reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with its ingredient sourcing, is vegan, free from lactose and cholesterol, and wrapped in paper-based packaging. It bears a front-of-pack claim saying: ‘Made with animal-free dairy’.

The bar, available online as of 16 June until stocks last, is also made with Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa.

Chris Rowe, global vice president of research & development at Mars Wrigley, said the chocolate bar was “an inventive example” of how Mars partners with technology innovators to bring new offerings to consumers and explore the potential of alternative proteins.

Alastair Child, chief sustainability officer at Mars Wrigley added that it was “thoughtfully designed” to achieve Mars’ goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2050.

Last year, Perfect Day released the results of a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of its production process, which found it reduces blue water consumption by at least 96% and non-renewable energy use by at least 29%, compared with conventional whey production methods. The company also says its production methods cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 97%.

What is Perfect Day’s ingredient?

Precision fermentation uses microbial hosts (such as yeast, bacteria and microalgae) as ‘cell factories’ for producing specific functional ingredients. Perfect Day says its process involves giving microorganisms the precise DNA sequence that serves as a blueprint for how to make cow whey protein – “the thing that makes milk taste, whip, and swirl like milk”. Genetic engineering is involved in the process but GM ingredients are not present in the final whey product.

The ingredient launched in 2020 and is approved for use in the US, Hong Kong and Singapore where manufacturers are using it in ice creams, cream cheese, baked goods, and sports nutrition products.

Ryan Pandya, Perfect Day cofounder and CEO, said: "Partnering with a forward-looking leader like Mars to accelerate their innovation and sustainability initiatives is a hallmark example of how we're extending our impact.”

In 2021, Starbucks began to trial Perfect Day milk in select locations, for instance.

From dairy to palm oil: Big Food embraces biotech

A growing number of consumer-facing multinational manufacturers are partnering with biotech startups to source sustainable, lower-impact ingredients for their products.

Mars’ partnership with Perfect Day comes as Unilever announced a $120 million joint investment with San Diego startup Geno to produce alternatives to palm kernel oil-derived surfactants via precision fermentation for its home care and personal care portfolio.

On the supply side, Kerry recently acquired two biotech companies: C-LEcta , a German precision fermentation firm and Mexican enzyme manufacturer, Enmex, saying the dual acquisition would accelerate its capabilities in enzyme engineering, fermentation and bio-process development.

According to animal-free advocacy organisation, the Good Food Institute (GFI), precision fermentation, which is being used to produce enzymes, flavours, proteins, vitamins, natural pigments, and fats, is well suited to creating high-value ingredients for plant-based foods.

“These ingredients typically require greater purity than the primary protein ingredients and are incorporated at much lower levels in finished products,” GFI wrote in a 2021 State of the Industry report on fermentation. “These ingredients are powerful enablers of improved sensory characteristics and functional attributes of plant-based products or cultivated meat.”

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