Step Aside, Oats & Soy: French Startup Uses Faba Beans & Algae To Make Plant-Based Milk

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There’s little doubt that the plant-based dairy segment has grown significantly over the past few years, thanks to the dairy-free trend driven by health and sustainability concerns, and now also fuelled by coronavirus-related supply chain disruptions. Browsing through the grocery aisle, consumers will find no shortage of plant-based milks made from soy, oats, almonds and rice. But one French startup believes that the ingredient range needs to be diversified and wants to bring its disruptive faba bean protein and algae milks to the market. 

Founded this year by Clémence Landeau, Céline Bouvier and Franck Manifacier, Update Foods is the latest plant-based dairy startup on a mission to offer consumers another dairy-free choice. Unlike other plant-based milk alternatives that have grown in popularity over the years, such as oat milk brand Oatly or traditional soy or rice milks developed by long-time players like Alpro and Provamel, Update Foods says that their “perfect vegan milk” – one that competes on taste, texture, appearance, nutrition and cost – isn’t made with these plant ingredients

[M!lk Update] is a tasty, never from concentrate, no sugar-added and nutritious beverage that tastes, smells and looks so similar to cow’s milk that it will convince the next generation to make a plant-based switch without any regrets.

Clémence Landeau, Co-Founder & CEO, Update Foods
Source: Crop Trust

Instead, the Paris-based startup is “updating” the formula with protein derived from faba beans and algae oil, with natural flavourings, and a “pinch” of emulsifier and texturiser

The end product, dubbed M!lk Update, is “a tasty, never from concentrate, no sugar-added and nutritious beverage that tastes, smells and looks so similar to cow’s milk that it will convince the next generation to make a plant-based switch without any regrets,” said CEO Landeau in an interview with FoodNavigator

Landeau added that the inspiration for the idea came when “we ​noticed a common frustration regarding the current range of plant-based milks on offer,” prompting the co-founders to “shake this up by introducing a refreshing, one-of-a-kind product to retail shelves.” 

To name just a few, M!lk Update blows away all digestive issues you may have endured before, it’s allergen-free and has a long shelf-life.

Clémence Landeau, Co-Founder & CEO, Update Foods
Two of the co-founders of Update Foods, Clémence Landeau and Céline Bouvier (Source: ProVeg Incubator)

In addition to being vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and more sustainable than its animal-counterparts, Update Foods says that its version boasts an impressive nutritional profile – a good source of fibre, low in saturated fat and sodium, while being rich in protein and the molybdenum, an essential micronutrient that aids in the process of DNA and helps breaks down toxins among other functions. It also contains 24% more magnesium than cow’s milk, and 3,000% more iron

“To name just a few, M!lk Update blows away all digestive issues you may have endured before, it’s allergen-free and has a long shelf-life,” said the co-founder in the interview, who described the product as “destabilising” in terms of taste and its likeness to real dairy. 

While Update Foods, who is a part of ProVeg Incubator’s latest cohort of majority female-led startups, has yet to launch its product commercially, it says plans are underway to bring its “updated” milks to market by the first quarter of 2021. After its initial launch in France, the company hopes to expand its distribution to the U.K., Germany and Northern European countries. 

Beyond targeting Europe’s enormous plant-based market that is expected to grow to US$8.9 billion by 2025, no doubt fuelled by the continent’s rising numbers of flexitarians and vegans in the wake of the pandemic, Update Foods hopes to make its mark in Asia too “in the near future,” the company told FoodNavigator

When it comes to incorporating lesser-known plant ingredients into plant-based dairy alternatives, Update Foods is among the few, but not alone. Chilean food tech NotCo, armed with its artificial intelligence technology, has developed a range of vegan milks made from chicory, cabbage, pineapple and pea protein. Already distributed across Latin America, the Jeff Bezos-backed company recently made its first entry into U.S. retail.


Lead image courtesy of Update Foods


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