‘Milk’ from a pea. Sound interesting? It is according to Whole Foods, which has the legume-based dairy alternative as one of their main trends for 2019.
Pea is set to join the ever-growing squadron of vegan-friendly drinks next month, with Whole Foods and Sainsbury’s both releasing this country’s first home-grown iteration, created by The Mighty Society.
Stats from Mintel reveal that sales in the UK milk alternatives category increased by a third between 2015 and 2017, with the plant-based movement continuing to go from strength to strength.
The Mighty Society's ‘mylk,’ as it’s branded, will first come in both sweetened and unsweetened, with more flavours to arrive throughout the year.
Beverages made from peas are already established in the US with Bolthouse Farms and Ripple the two main brands across the pond – the latter reportedly received $44m from investors in its first few years to help push the brand and product.
But what are the benefits of pea milk, how is it made and could it really be the next big thing in the UK?
And is it green?
Yellow split peas are the lifeblood of pea milk. The Mighty Society first mills its peas into a flour, which are then processed to remove the protein from the starch and fibre. This protein is then purified and blended with water and a number of oils and vitamins, including calcium, vitamin D and B12.
The result is a long way from mushy peas and definitely not green. Nut-free, dairy-free, soya-free and low in saturated fats, The Mighty Society says that its product contains as much as eight times as much protein as almond alternatives (8g per 250ml). It also claims that the pea drink holds double the amount of calcium as cow’s milk and almost half as much sugar.
“We are convinced that pea milk will be the next big thing in the UK in terms of the dairy alternatives category,” Nick Watkins, co-founder of The Mighty Society, tells Food Spark.
“While we’re still very new – we only started around the middle of 2018 – we’ve already had a huge response from consumers and retailers alike.”
The taste tests have been “extraordinary,” according to Watkins, who notes that the pea milk has many different applications, from cereals and protein shakes, to tea, coffee and even cooking.
“We’ve tested it on hundreds of consumers without telling them what the milk is made of and they’ve all been shocked when we reveal that it’s pea-based!” he adds.
A hap-pea planet
Sustainability is a big part of The Mighty Society’s ethos. According to them, it takes 100 times more water to farm almonds than peas and 25 times more water to farm dairy.
“People really care about the planet now, which goes hand in hand with health,” comments Watkins.
“Diets are changing and, to help the planet, they have to. Consumption of red meat, for example, needs to be reduced, while we are also eating more vegetables. We aim to be at the cutting edge of this movement and pea milk is the most sustainable non-dairy option on the market.
“We wanted to create a product that is not only tasty and accessible to consumers but also packed full of health benefits and very planet-conscious.”
It’s all hands to the pumps for The Mighty Society in the build-up to the release, with even the smallest of helpers playing their part.
“I have two young children and they’re huge followers of our pea milk. And, at that age, their feelings are conveyed through emotion. If they didn’t like the taste, we’d know about it!”