A few years ago, those avoiding cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance or for ethical reasons were drinking soy milk, but health anxieties have seen a rising demand for alternative plant “milks”, including rice, hemp, cashew, oat, coconut blends and – most popular – almond.
According to Fortune “Almond milk now outsells any other non-dairy milk—including rice or soy milk. It accounts for 4.1 percent of total milk sales – compared to less than one half percent just five years ago”. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that sales of alternative milks hit $1.4 billion in 2013 and are expected to hit $1.7 billion by 2016, with almond milk leading that growth. So what’s driving the surge in almond milk?
In our opinion, more people are moving away from traditional dairy consumption due to intolerances, changes in dietary behaviour and growing dietetic movements such as veganism, or simply because they have a desire to cut back on their consumption of animal products. And let’s face it; almond milk is pretty darn trendy.
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, and they are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and protein. So it may be fair to assume that almond milk is equally healthy. Unfortunately this is not the case. Often many alternative milk brands have only 2% of almonds and the rest of the ingredients are water, sugar, emulsifiers and preservatives (generally speaking the longer the ingredient list, the worse it is).
There is however a string of startups that are working to make nut milks as healthy as the raw ingredients from which they derive by using new cold-pressed methods. Cold-press basically means applying no heat at all to the extraction of liquid. You first crush the nut, and then push it through a press to yield the most liquid without any heat treatment, which can keep all the nutrients intact from the fresh produce.
Some of the popular global players on the scene include: Inside Out Nutritious Goods (Sydney, Australia), The Pressery (London, UK), Jus Jus (Antwerp, Belgium), Luz Almond (Brisbane, Australia), Malk (Texas, USA) and allnut (Delhi, India).
How did you come up with the idea for Alt Milk?
I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer and big picture thinker, and have spent over 10 years working with marketing and start-ups in Palo Alto and London. Having been allergic to dairy since I was a kid, I started making almond milk in my kitchen and quickly realized that the cheap, low-nut content almond milk on the shelf was doing a massive disservice to dairy-free consumers. Fresh just tasted so. much. better.
I started to think about a modern almond milk company that would not only make consumers happy but would make sense for the leading retailers, hotels, coffee shops and businesses looking to serve a healthier, better tasting quality dairy-free option.
How did you know there was a market for your product and how did you get the word out there?
The almond milk market was a clear choice because of its rapid growth and long-life product saturation. Also, it just seemed so clear that consumers deserved a fresh, quality dairy-free product in light of the atrocities in the dairy industry and the low quality offerings of alternative milk on the shelf.
Alternative milk products and health food products in general are two of the highest growth sectors in the food and beverage space right now. Who are your biggest competitors at the moment?
There are many competitive players in the market in the long-life category; the fresh category is just beginning to expand. It would be great to sit alongside the Alpros of the alternative milk section.
Why did you select almond and cashew as your first two nut milk options? What future blends are you planning to create?
We would like to perfect our almond milk and stay focused on that for now as its what we do best! But we’ve got a few exciting collaborations and exclusive blends in store for later in the year. I’d love to perfect a non-nut alternative milk so we are working on that as well.
What is the percentage of almonds that go into the milk?
Our classic blend has 15% almonds.
Where is Alt Milk manufactured and what is the process?
Here in the UK. We use the finest cold-press technology to ensure the integrity of the product is maintained.
What kind of vanilla do you use…real vanilla beans?
Vanilla paste from vanilla beans.
What has been your greatest achievement with Alt Milk to date?
Selling out our first Harrods delivery in just a few hours!
What has been the most challenging business endeavour you have faced with Alt Milk?
I’d say our biggest challenge is figuring out how to create high-quality almond milk at a price that people are happy to pay. It’s imperative that we stick to our brand promise of quality and honesty whilst figuring it out! However consumers are quickly becoming more educated about food production and quality so that challenge is becoming easier.
What does 2016 hold for Alt Milk?
Ah, great question! Hopefully lots of fun, hard work and growth.
What would you like the last meal of your life to be?
A big roast dinner with french fries, a chocolate fondant and a few glasses of red wine with all of my family and friends!
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