US-based food technology company Perfect Day, backed by Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, has partnered with a Hong Kong ice cream maker to launch an animal-free dairy variety of the dessert, the first time such a product has been launched in Asia, the venture capital firm said on Tuesday.
Horizons and Perfect Day partnered with Hong Kong’s Igloo Dessert Bar to launch the “Ice Age!” range of ice creams that uses whey protein developed by fermentation from the gene sequence of bovine whey protein.
The resulting whey protein is identical at the molecular level to the dairy protein found in cow milk, according to Perfect Day. No animal product is used in the manufacturing process, it added.
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San Francisco-based Perfect Day has already partnered with several American ice cream brands, such as Nick’s Ice Cream, Graeter’s and Brave Robot, to commercialise the non-animal protein in vegan ice creams.
The global vegan ice cream market will reach US$805.3 million by 2027, according to an Allied Market Research report published in June last year.
While Europe is the leading regional market for vegan ice cream in 2019, the Asia-Pacific accounted for more than two-fifths of the global vegan ice cream market in 2018, and is expected to grow faster than Europe between 2020 and 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 14.5 per cent, the report said.
Firms that develop meat alternatives, such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, are gaining traction in Asia, with consumers becoming more environmentally and health-conscious.
The start-up, alongside Impossible Foods and Eat Just, is among the many firms that are developing plant-based and alternative proteins for food backed by Horizons, the Hong Kong billionaire’s investment arm to produce returns for his philanthropy.
“We founded Perfect Day in 2014 hungry to enjoy our favourite foods in more sustainable, compassionate ways without sacrificing taste,” Ryan Pandya, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.
Larvina Wong, co-founder of Igloo Dessert Bar, said developing ice cream from Perfect Day’s protein took two months, and she approached them for a partnership because of the benefits of the more environmentally friendly ice cream.
Horizons has invested in every round of Perfect Day’s fundraising since seed funding.
Perfect Day emerged from an accelerator programme in Ireland in 2014, securing seed funding from Horizons co-founder Solina Chau Hoi-shuen. In 2018, the company raised US$24.7 million in its series A round, which was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek and joined by Horizons and other investors.
Horizons and Temasek returned to lead Perfect Day’s series B fundraising in February 2019, raising US$34.75 million. The start-up closed its US$140 million series C funding in December the same year.
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