Editor’s choice: Our roundup of the most innovative dairy alternative products

19 Sep 2022

There is so much innovation in the alternative dairy space it can be hard to keep track. From sesame milk to bean-based cheese, our editors have rounded up of some products that showcase the trends in this constantly-evolving category.

The products below were cited during the Dairy and Dairy Alternatives Deep Dive Day, held as part of the Fi Webinar Series, and include sesame milk, a bean-based vegan cheese, an artificial intelligence-powered plant-based milk, a creamy plant-based fat ingredient and a plant-based milk made from grains and seeds.

Let’s take a closer look…

Editor’s choice: Our roundup of the most innovative dairy alternative products
© Hope & Sesame/Cameron Walt

Hope and Sesame’s barista sesamemilk

US plant-based brand Hope and Sesame has rolled out a range of sesame milks including a ‘breakthrough’ barista blend.

The sesame milk range is made up of two formats – chilled and shelf-stable - with six flavours that are ‘nutritionally comparable to dairy milk’, according to the company. An 8oz serving, has 8g of complete protein, all nine essential amino acids, and is considered a source of vitamin D and calcium.

The line-up includes chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, vanilla, original, unsweetened original, unsweetened vanilla and a barista blend.

“It shows how plant-based milks have really captured the barista market by developing milk alternatives that have better foaming properties. And, of course, those barista milks are not just being used by professional baristas in coffee shops but also by consumers who have barista-style coffee machines, which is a growing trend,” said Niamh Michail, senior content editor at Fi Global.

Willicroft’s plant-based cheese alternative

In the Netherlands, Willicroft combines dairy farming techniques with plant-based ingredients to create cheese alternatives. All products are vegan, bean-based and come in CO2 neutral packaging. The range of “planet proof” cheeses include young Dutch, original fondue, original sauce, Italian aged and Greek white.

The plant-based cheese company initially used cashews for its cheese before discovering it had the highest emissions of all its ingredients. It later identified white beans as a functional, sustainable alternative that could be grown in a Northern European climate.

“Willicroft began working with local government departments, non-profits and farmers on a transitional farming project to convert land currently used by dairy cows into bean fields, and promised to buy the white beans for its cheeses from the newly transitioned farmers.

“I like this story because it’s an example of the dairy and dairy alt sectors working together to meet consumer demands in a sustainable way, create new business models with existing players,” said Michail.

NotCo’s plant-based milk alternative

NotCo use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to formulate products that mimic animal-based foods using plant-based ingredients. The Chilean food tech company has two product ranges – NotMilk and NotBurger.

Guiseppe, NotCo’s artificial intelligence programme, matches the recipes of animal-based products by analysing the product structure at a molecular level and replicating it using plant-based ingredients.

NotCo’s plant-based milk “sips, slurps and froths like milk”, says the company, but is made entirely from plants. It comes in the options found traditionally in dairy milk - whole, 2% reduced fat, 1% and chocolate.

“The milk alternative is designed to provide consumers with the same taste and texture that replicates dairy-based milk. The dairy alternative is made with a blend of pea protein, chicory root fibre, pineapple juice, coconut oil, sunflower oil and cabbage juice,” said Kinga Swiderska, head of content at Fi Global.

Time Travelling Milkman’s plant-based fat ingredient

Time Travelling Milkman (TTM) produces plant-based fat for “sustainable creaminess inside dairy alternatives”. The plant-based fat ingredient comes in powder and liquid cream format to create creamier, healthier, and more sustainable plant-based products.

Designed to be an alternative to the fat ingredients currently used such as palm and coconut oils, TTM’s plant-based fat ingredient contains no preservatives or petrochemicals.

“A finalist of 2021 Start-up Innovation Challenge at Fi Europe in the Most Innovative Plant-Based or Alternative Ingredient category was Travelling Milkman (TTM) - great name!,” said Swiderska,

“TTM’s unsaturated fat ingredients are made through a process that extracts natural fat droplets from seeds, such as sunflower seeds, for sustainable production of fat that is texturally similar to milk cream, adding a very nice mouthfeel. These oleosomes have a high potential as milk fat equivalents for creamy and tasty dairy alternatives, while having almost no environmental impact.”

Lilk’s plant-based milk alternative

Lilk blends grains and seeds such as quinoa, rice, oat and coconut to create “tastier and more balanced” plant-based milks. This product caught the eye of content editor Segi Adewusi who thought it was an innovative idea to blend multiple grains and seeds to offer a distinct mouthfeel, taste, and texture for different occasions.

“The uncommon blend is described by Lilk as ‘very, very milky’ light, neutral for everyday use whilst the lush blend is ‘perfect for stay-at-home treats’ and ideal for desserts and even cocktails,” said Adewusi.

The UK plant-based milk brand is founded by two siblings who were dissatisfied with the plant-based milk offerings on the market during the Covid-19 lockdown. The range is comprised of two varieties - the uncommon blend and the lush blend. Both are vegan, unsweetened and enriched with calcium, and vitamins B12 and D.

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