If you’re thinking almond milk then shame on you, you’re a dinosaur living in the past. Get ready for this – yellow pea milk is where it’s at.
We’re not yanking your chain (or milking your…never mind), because a company called Ripple Foods has been backed by $44 million (R578 million) from Google and Silicon Valley venture capitalists and they’re flying.
Since launching in April 2016, the company has sold well over two million bottles of product and raked in $20 million (R262 million) in revenue – and all of that is from selling milk made from simple yellow peas.
According to Bloomberg, sales of dairy milk decreased by 7% ($17.8 billion) in 2015 alone, and they are projected to fall an additional 11 percent through 2020.
Almond milk sales grew more than two-fold from 2011 to 2015, but it only has one-eighth the protein of dairy milk and requires huge amounts of water to produce.
Looks like Adam Lowry and co-founder Neil Renninger have found the sweet spot, although it did take them a while to settle on the yellow pea:
In 2014, the two friends saw an opportunity to change the dairy industry. “The food system represents 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, and dairy is one-quarter of that,” said Renninger via telephone. “The impact is massive. More than beef, more than chicken, dairy is actually the largest contributor to emissions by volume. That challenge scratched my sustainability itch.”
…Using Renninger’s technology, they began to experiment extracting protein from from different plants that had a notable amount of the biomolecules. “You name it, we screened it,” says Renninger. Most of them tasted terrible.
Then the pair tried yellow peas, which are inexpensive to grow and don’t yield a strongly flavored product. The result was a drink that has a hint of concentrated powdered milk taste and a smooth, creamy texture.
“It’s not that we have the only pea milk on the market; what makes us unique is that, thanks to technology, we have the purest plant protein in the world,” says Renninger.
Yellow pea milk actually delivers the same protein punch as traditional dairy milk, but it’s the product’s eco footprint that really puts the competition to shame:
According to their research, each 48-ounce bottle of Ripple (made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material) represents a savings of 3.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 925 gallons of water, versus dairy milk. The 2.5 million bottles Ripple has sold adds up to nearly 7 million fewer pounds of CO2 emissions—the equivalent of taking more than 600 cars off the road for a year. And getting the same amount of protein from almond milk would require 66 billion gallons of additional water.
Just think of the lessons you could deliver your next yoga class.
“I know you grow your own veggies, Pixie Moonchild, but your milk intake is an environmental disaster. You need to switch to yellow pea milk. Namaste”.
Then you flit off into your mommy SUV and make your way home to trawl through Facebook, still buzzing from that moral high.
Sadly the product isn’t yet for sale in South Africa, but here’s what’s on offer in the US:
Currently, five kinds of Ripple milk are on sale at such places as Whole Foods and Target Corp. stores: Original unsweetened milk is the best seller, along with flavors like chocolate milk and vanilla milk, plus half-and-half and kids’ packs. Meanwhile, Ripple is expanding its product base: This winter, the brand will enter the burgeoning yogurt business with a plant-based, Greek style yogurt.
Does anyone else smell an investment opportunity? Sure, but who the hell wants to deal with the million issues that comes with dabbling in the imports / exports game.
No one, especially not Seth. His Malawi Cane furniture business uses Berry & Donaldson, and he can tell you why:
One thing I’ve learnt about import / export over the last three years is shit happens, WAY more often than you would think. Not partnering with a very good freight forwarding company is the biggest mistake any entrepreneur in this game could make.
Berry & Donaldson handles it all – every detail of getting my goods around the world – without all the hassle and paperwork and customs and other things that ruin living the holiday.
We won’t stop you from starting your yellow pea milk empire around these parts, but you better get cracking because you know someone is already eyeing this one out.
Ripple Food’s Facebook page has a couple of South Africans begging for the product to be shipped out this side, and once the health nuts catch wind of this it’s surely going to blow up.
Don’t say we never do anything for you.
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