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Israel’s Remilk to open ‘world’s largest’ facility for cow-free milk in Denmark

Food tech startup recently raised $120 million with investors to build its production capabilities

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

Israeli startup Remilk uses a yeast-based fermentation process to produce animal-free milk proteins that, the company says, are indistinguishable in taste and function from cow milk proteins, but free of lactose, cholesterol, and growth hormones. (Remilk)
Israeli startup Remilk uses a yeast-based fermentation process to produce animal-free milk proteins that, the company says, are indistinguishable in taste and function from cow milk proteins, but free of lactose, cholesterol, and growth hormones. (Remilk)

Israeli food tech startup Remilk, a developer of cultured milk and dairy, said Tuesday that it plans to open the “world’s largest” facility for the production of cow-free milk in Denmark.

The 750,000 square feet (69, 677 square meters) facility will be built within an eco-industrial park in the city of Kalundborg, the company announced.

Founded in 2019, Remilk produces milk proteins via a yeast-based fermentation process that renders them “chemically identical” to those present in cow-produced milk and dairy products.

“The end result is 100 percent similar to ‘real’ milk,” but free of lactose, cholesterol, growth hormones, and antibiotics, founder and CEO Aviv Wolff previously told The Times of Israel.

Wolff and his scientist partner Ori Cohavi mapped out the chemical composition of milk, assessed the fat, lactose and sugar in the liquid, and determined that the key ingredient to making milk is the proteins. Remilk recreates the milk proteins by taking the genes that encode them and inserting them into a single-cell microbe, which they manipulated genetically to express the protein “in an efficient and scalable way,” said Wolf. The product is then dried into a powder.

“We’re making dairy products that are identical to cow-milk products, with the same taste, texture, stretchiness, meltiness, with no cholesterol and no lactose,” Wolff said. “We’ve basically ported the whole mechanism of producing milk into a single-cell microbe. We don’t need the ‘rest of the cow,’ and we surely don’t need to spend resources in the process of creating a 900-kilogram animal.”

The entrance to the offices of Israeli food tech startup Remilk in Rehovot, November 2021. (Times of Israel staff)

Wolff has also said that “relying on animals to make our food is no longer sustainable. The implications of animal farming are devastating for our planet.”

Remilk’s model of food production will be up to 100 times more land-efficient than the existing dairy system, 25 times more feedstock-efficient, 20 times more time-efficient, and 10 times more water-efficient, he said.

At the new facility Remilk will produce its proteins for use in products like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, “in volumes equivalent to that produced by 50,000 cows each year,” the company said. The facility will be set up as part of an eco-village network called the Symbiosis Project.

Kalundborg Mayor Martin Damm said Remilk “fits perfectly into our sustainability profile” and the park’s other participants.

“When Remilk’s plant for production of non-animal dairy products is completed, it will also be the world’s largest precision fermentation facility. I see Remilk’s choice of Kalundborg Municipality as a buy-in to our commitment to sustainability, high technology, and education and our ability to enter a constructive dialogue with our stakeholders,” said Damm.

Remilk’s cow-free cream cheese served at the company’s offices in Rehovot, November 2021. (Times of Israel staff)

Wolff said in the announcement Tuesday that Remilk was “committed to reinventing our dairy industry in a kind, sustainable way. Eliminating the need for animals in our food system is the only way to supply our world’s growing demand without destroying it in the process. We intend to massively scale up our production capabilities to make nutritious, delicious, and affordable dairy that will send cows into early retirement.”

Remilk operates in the dairy alternatives market, which is expected to grow from $22.25 billion in 2021 to $53.97 billion in 2028, according to research firm Fortune Business Insights.

It is separate from the plant-based milk sector, where beverages are made from soy, almond, coconut, oats, hemp, and other non-animal material.

The company raised $120 million in a funding round in January led by Hanaco Ventures, a New York- and Tel Aviv-based venture capital fund.

Remilk previously raised funds with Israeli dairy company Tara and beverage company Tempo, among other investors.

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