VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Nestle SA has developed an animal-free dairy product as part of its focus on the growing plant-based alternatives market.

The company expects to launch its novel product pilot in the United States sometime this year as a test-and-learn trial.

“We are exploring emerging technologies that can lead to animal-friendly alternatives that are nutritious and sustainable, without compromising on taste, flavor and texture,” said Heike Steiling, head of Nestle’s Development Center for dairy products. “Bringing together our unmatched R&D expertise, innovation capabilities and scale, we are working to develop and test novel animal-free dairy protein-based products to complement our wide-ranging portfolio of plant-based alternatives.”

The product was made with animal-free dairy protein from food tech startup Perfect Day, Berkeley, Calif., which uses precision fermentation and microflora to create a protein powder identical to whey protein found in traditional dairy, according to the company.

Nestle’s announcement marks the second recent collaboration between industry leaders and animal-free dairy startups, following ADM’s partnership with New Culture in August. New Culture uses its animal-free casein replacement, rather than whey, and precision fermentation to produce a line of dairy-free cheeses.

“While this category is still very young, we know consumers are looking for products that have a reduced environmental footprint, and we are evaluating this avenue as a future growth opportunity for our business,” said Joanna Yarbrough, head of Nestle’s R+D Accelerator.

As part of its emphasis on the recently establishedNestle Entrepreneurship Academy, the company will pilot the product through the academy’s R+D Accelerator program. The program brings together scientists, students and startups to increase innovation and bring highly differentiated product concepts to market within six months.