Milking it: three innovative dairy alternatives to consider

A trio of plant-based drinks have heaved into view, with avocado, pistachio and chia seed milks recently joining the dairy-less throng

11 March 2020
dairydrinknutritionnuts and seedsplant-basedvegan

The World Food Innovation Awards 2020 showcased a whole host of fascinating products last week - and those in the plant-based milk zone were a central part of proceedings as an avocado milk and a pistachio milk battled it out in the health/wellness drink category.

The ever-expanding world of plant-based milk alternatives seems to have no bounds, with everything from pea to quinoa providing workable plant milk opportunities.

Along with the aforementioned avo/pistachio innovations, a recent chia milk release across the pond has also grabbed Food Spark’s attention, with the trio seemingly revealing new avenues for dairy-less development.

Avocado milk

New Zealand-born avocadomilk came out on top in the best health/wellness drink category at last week’s awards, with the two strong range claiming to be the world’s first milk made with fruit.

Containing 20% avocado per 380ml bottle, the avocadomilk is dairy free, preservative free, refined sugar free and cholesterol free, with both the original and cacao flavours made with oat milk.

Currently only available in the US, avocadomilk arrived on the scene in November, with sales expected to surpass $1m (£774m) in the next six months.

And, in what is not a common move for plant-based purveyors, the company have plans to release a dairy version in the near future.

"The product is 100% plant-based right now, but we certainly think with New Zealand having a really strong dairy heritage there's an opportunity to make a dairy version of avocado milk - ice cream avocado milk, yoghurt avocado milk," Nomura told New Zealand Media and Entertainment.

While an attractive-sounding product, avocado farming practices have been under scrutiny for a good few years now in terms of sustainability, with increasingly environmentally charged consumers finding issue with the fruit as a result.

And, as is fast becoming apparent, consumer environmental concern does have an impact on purchasing habits, with a 2019 survey by Streetbees finding that more than half of consumers had actively changed their shopping and eating habits to be more sustainable.

Pistachio milk

Borna Foods’ pistachio drink was a runner-up to avocadomilk at the World Food innovation Awards 2020, with the two-strong range launching in the summer of 2019.

Said to be the only pistachio drink in the UK, Borna’s product comes as either unsweetened or lightly sweetened, with both enhanced with calcium and vitamin B12 (the latter being something of a nutritional problem for plant-based products over the years).

The drink duo is made with pistachios that have been roasted at a specific temperature so as to preserve the green colour synonymous with the nut.

Nut and seed milks have been a popular plant-based area for development teams over the last five years, with mainstream mainstays such as almond and coconut milks joined by the likes of cashew and oat renditions on the shelves.

And, while Borna Foods have an entirely pistachio-driven product range (including on-trend nut butters), American company Mamma Chia have gone down a much seedier route.

Chia milk

Launching at the start of March, Mamma Chia’s organic chiamilk is another first-to-market claimer, with both their vanilla and original dairy alternatives containing Omega-3 and MCT, as well as more calcium per glass than traditional milk and zero grams of sugar.

Chia seeds are certainly versatile, with recent trailblazers making flatbreads, breakfast porridges and even energy balls using the tiny, dark ingredient.

Something of a nutritional powerhouse (which bodes well these days), the chia seeds are on the up globally, with Research and Market's Global Chia Seed Market 2019 projecting the market will reach $2.95bn (£2.3bn) by 2022, representing an annual growth rate of 40.6%.

But, with so many would-be milk megastars either on or coming to the market, what does Sparkie think will be the standout?

Sparkie says…

One of the things that is always highly speculated on during the round of trends reports each January is what the next big "milk" will be.

The majority of what we have seen suggested that people are betting on pea milk this year but seeing this, I would put it in with a solid chance.

Chia is already noted as being a popular health food ingredient, so it is well known within the circles that the milk wars are taking place. This is going to give it a head start over pea milk which is going to be new on the scene.

The interesting thing about chia is that it can function as a natural gum-style thickening agent so this might be one of the first of these faux milks that could expand into mimicking the different thicknesses of cream without additional ingredients.

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