Throughout my career I’ve been enticed by the challenge of using science to make the most of plant-based agriculture, all with a focus on sustainability.
Like most people my age, I grew up with the idea that milk is good for you. But it wasn’t until I began to look into its production that I realised we needed to make a change.
Unfortunately, the demand for dairy today has placed a pressure on production that far outstrips the benefits this animal product brings. From climate change to animal ethics, industrial livestock farming—at the scale it currently operates—is not sustainable.
At Formo, the products we’re pioneering result in far less CO₂ production, we use less water, and we also use a fraction of the land mass that’s required to rear cows for milk.
At Formo, the products we’re pioneering result in far less CO₂ production, we use less water, and we also use a fraction of the land mass that’s required to rear cows for milk. The energy efficiency we achieve through our fermentation process far outstrips that of the traditional farming process, too.
We need plant material to feed the protein growth in our fermenters, so farming will always be a crucial element to our process. The main difference is, we’re cutting out the cows. In short, we can produce more food with less resources, and ultimately, that really demonstrates love for the planet.
We also try to look critically at every step in our production process to see where we can improve. Whether that’s through reusable glass equipment in our laboratory or avoiding paper and single-use items elsewhere, we’re making sure that our journey and products are equally concerned with having as small an impact on the world as possible.
Two litres of milk can’t cost €1 without real consequences... but when you’re armed with information, your value proposition changes.
Often, when people are first confronted with the idea of making cheese in a laboratory setting using fermenters, they see it as ‘artificial’. But when you break it down, what we’re doing is incredibly natural. From sourdough to sauerkraut, fermentation has been used for thousands of years to produce food—all we’re doing is reapplying this ancient technology to produce proteins.
When it comes to production processes, we believe transparency is key. Without it, it’s harder for people to feel informed when making decisions. If a customer sees a product for a low price, that monetary value will often supersede any moral, ethical, or environmental costs likely incurred along the way to reach such a low price. Two litres of milk can’t cost €1 without real consequences.
But when you’re armed with information, your value proposition changes. Your decisions no longer centre around the change in your pocket, but the change your choices can help to make in the world. It’s our hope that, through a commitment to honesty, we can encourage others to join us on this journey of creating products that honour our responsibility to our planet and its finite resources.
That’s what it really means to show love to the world.
Dr. Britta Winterberg is Co-Founder and CSO at Formo (formerly Legendairy Foods) and this article is one part of a series exploring the future of dairy through the lens of Formo's DNA.
Image Credit: Dwinanda Nurhanif Mujito