Perfect Day raises $350M and announces animal-free cream cheese

Dive Brief:

  • Animal-free dairy company Perfect Day raised $350 million in a Series D round, bringing its total funding to $750 million. The funds will be used to fuel the company’s focus on biological science, ingredient innovation and consumer products. It was co-led by previous investors Temasek and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and included strong participation from Horizons Ventures, Bob Iger and SK Inc. 
  • Some of these funds will go towards Perfect Day’s affiliated CPG company, The Urgent Company, which announced a new brand of animal-free dairy staples: Modern Kitchen. Its first launch is three varieties of animal-free cream cheese. The Urgent Company said it will be available in select stores soon, and is available for pre-orders online.
  • Perfect Day is the only company with animal-free dairy ingredients currently on the market, making its debut with ice cream in 2019. At the Future Food-Tech conference this summer, Perfect Day Co-founder and CEO Ryan Pandya said cream cheese containing the company’s proteins would be available later this year, with 20 other products joining in 2022.

Dive Insight:

In a year of mega-funding rounds for alternative proteins, it’s not surprising that Perfect Day is clocking in with an amount that is tied for the largest single haul for a company in this space this year. The non-animal dairy protein pioneer has been widely recognized for its ingredients’ potential to shift the paradigm of where dairy proteins come from. Perfect Day makes its dairy proteins through precision fermentation, a process that involves encoding microbes with information to engineer a protein typically produced by an animal, and producing the protein in a fermentation tank.

“When we first started this almost eight years ago, we had the simple goal of creating a way to make dairy without animals,” Pandya said in a written statement. “We quickly realized that we could maximize our positive impact for the planet and the global food system by applying our technology and know-how across the supply chain.”

Perfect Day has started to deliver on that goal by making its products more widely available. The Urgent Company’s Brave Robot ice cream brand is sold in 5,000 grocery stores nationwide, according to the company, and some ice cream lines from Smitten, Graeter’s and Nick’s are using the animal-free dairy. Adding cream cheese to its portfolio will boost the company’s visibility in another section of the grocery store and another daypart. Despite Modern Kitchen not being a direct Perfect Day product, its packaging will have the company’s logo and information telling consumers more about the source of its proteins.

The company also announced a program to help other companies in the tech space. Last summer, Perfect Day quietly took on ownership and operations of Utah State University’s Synthetic Biomanufacturing Facility (SBF), located on the university’s Innovation Campus in Logan, Utah. The animal-free dairy maker said it’s using this facility and its expertise to expand into “enterprise biology,” which it defined as providing development services to help startups scale their technology. The company said it has a strong roster of companies it is working with at SBF, which is already a profitable business.

These funds further demonstrate the deep pockets of investors who are willing to support alternative proteins and food tech. Seven alternative protein entities received funding rounds greater than $100 million in 2020 alone. Fermented protein company Nature’s Fynd tied with Perfect Day for the largest single funding this year, closing a $350 million funding round in July. Earlier this year, Eat Just raised a total of $467 million — $200 million for the plant-based foods company as a whole and $267 million for its Good Meat cell-based chicken division. The LiveKindly Collective, an international platform for alternative protein brands, closed a $335 million funding round in March.

NotCo, which uses artificial intelligence to replicate animal proteins with those in plants, raised $235 million in July. Plant-based ingredients company Motif FoodWorks announced a $226 million funding round in June, and in July Israeli cell-based meat company Aleph Farms raised $105 million in hopes of bringing products to consumers next year.