By Alasdair Baxter, The FoodBowl business development manager
A year ago, we reported on the boom in plant-based milks and we’re finding that the landscape is continuing to change fast as more start-ups and corporates enter the fray in New Zealand.
If you want to make plant milk then there are one or two important questions: Firstly, which plant should you “milk”!? Secondly, which technology should you use to preserve the milk?
A sensible approach to the first question is to pick a crop that grows well in New Zealand and also is relatively easy to convert into a delicious and nutritious milk. New Zealand developers have so far often plumped for oat and hemp, with various companies secret-squirrelling away over the past few years to perfect their processes. Interestingly, the Aussies have decided that legumes are a sensible choice for their climate, so the Federal Government there has jumped in with financial support for a huge new bean protein $378 million extraction facility in South Australia.
Now to the second question: How are you going to preserve the milk? This has been another major challenge in New Zealand because we don’t have a ready list of contract manufacturers gladly offering the right type of facilities for preserving plant milks at scale. However, this is going to change soon with NZ Functional Foods Ltd establishing a plant-based UHT/aseptic facility in Southland – the heart of prime oat-growing country. The facility is backed by the Southland Regional Development Agency and Sir Stephen Tindall’s investment vehicle K1W1. NZFIN has been working extensively with start-ups and corporates in the plant-based milk sphere, across all of our hubs, and it’s exciting to see many of these companies now mapping out a clear pathway to success.
Dr. Alasdair Baxter is business development manager at The FoodBowl. Prior to joining The FoodBowl, he worked in technical and sales roles for various multinational ingredients companies.
The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.