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Brief Published: 25 May 2021

Waterless Formats Proliferate for Plant-Based Milks

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Blue Farm

Waterless products are moving from beauty to food, with Stylus noting a surge in powdered mixes and pastes for semi-DIY plant-based milks. These eco-aware brands are seizing a gap in the booming non-dairy milk market, while also appealing to budding customer niches.

Plant-based milks are uniquely suited to water-free formats since water is added during the production process, whereas with dairy milks, naturally occurring water needs to be removed to create a powdered product. This enables non-dairy milk companies to easily invent a range of waterless formats – from the frozen almond milk pucks by New York frozen food brand Daily Harvest, to the packets of super-fine almond paste by British brand Nooj and Joi in the US.

Meanwhile, German company Blue Farm sells sachets of finely ground oat flour that can be shaken into a ready-to-drink oat beverage, and consumers can purchase macadamia, coconut and cashew pastes from New York’s Modest Mylk.

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Joi
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Daily Harvest
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Nooj
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Modest Mylk

These exmaples underline the widening appeal of milk alternatives, as we detail on The Brief. With the global alt-milk market expected to be worth $21bn in 2026, up from $12bn in 2019 (GM Insights, 2020), there’s a fertile opportunity for brands to experiment with new formats that address unique need gaps among their target customers. Illustrating the potential, Joi reported a 600% increase in sales from 2019 to 2020 (Forbes, 2021). 

Aside from the significant commercial incentive, there’s an environmental urgency to find sustainable methods of producing plant-based milks, which are typically highly diluted with water. This increases both carton weight and shipping costs, and also speeds up spoiling. For extremely water-intensive crops like almonds, reducing the amount of H2O used at any point in the process is a small step towards making it more eco-friendly.

For more on plant-based products, see Veganism Forecast 2021.

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