Although dairy companies are losing market share to plant-based alternatives, there haven’t really been any plant-based ice cream alternatives that could win people’s hearts at scale. Thomas Bowman and Aylon Steinhart, the co-founders of Eclipse Foods, want to change that.
Launching out of Silicon Valley startup incubator YCombinator, Eclipse Foods has now replicated America’s favorite dessert down to the molecular level and enhanced some nutritional components. The company’s goal? To reverse dairy’s implications on the environment one scoop of plant-based ice cream at a time. And apparently, it tastes just like the real thing too.
Plant-Based Dairy, Including Ice Cream, Can Mitigate Climate Concerns
Because plant-based dairy has become a trend in the health food movement, even they have contributed to unsustainable agriculture. Years ago, the switch to almond milk, for instance, seemed almost necessary to minimize methane emissions from cattle.
But a liter of almond milk takes 6,098 liters (1,611 gallons) of water to produce. And that’s alarming, considering most almond plantations are located in the formerly drought-heavy California.
Broadening the Audience That Can Enjoy Dairy-Like Ice Cream
Besides having sustainability considerations, Eclipse’s ice cream is also free from many common allergens, including soy, nuts, coconut, and gluten. By and large, the company wants to make a dessert that many more people will be able to enjoy.
The ice cream, now available to the public, instead contains ingredients like canola oil, potato, corn, cassava, and cane sugar. Eclipse has also shared that it has created its ice cream without the use of gums, gels, and stabilizers.
A Look Forward: Working Hard to Make Dairy Farming More Sustainable
Altogether, Eclipse hopes to contribute to reversing climate change and making dairy farming more sustainable. But it doesn’t want to compromise for the taste of the ice cream it makes either.
The company uses the same equipment used for dairy manufacturing, so the “best people to help scale [them] are people that are actually doing dairy products,” says Eclipse CTO Thomas Bowman.
Additionally, because the company’s ice cream isn’t particularly expensive, Eclipse hopes that it can offer an affordable, eco-conscious ice cream people will want to buy.
Currently, the company’s backers include Initialized Capital’s Alexis Ohanian, YCombinator’s Paul Buchheit, and SmartSweets’ Eric Patel. Based on a LinkedIn search, the company currently has a team of nine employees at the time of this writing.
But as the plant-based food trend continues to grow, Eclipse will certainly see more competition in the plant-based ice cream market.
That should be a good thing; competition should cause plant-based ice cream options to improve in quality. And at the same time, it should also encourage more companies to get involved in making ice cream not only good for our taste buds, but for the environment too.