The Alternative Dairy Co has reformulated its Barista Soy Milk recipe, ensuring the classic dairy alternative can match the quality of its almond and oat.
The plant-based barista milk market has exploded in recent years, with more consumers looking for alternatives to traditional dairy and a wider variety of options available.
For The Alternative Dairy Co, a relative newcomer to the plant-based milk market, it was important not to focus solely on almond milk, the most popular dairy alternative, and oat milk, the fastest growing. Café Business Manager Rachel Glasbergen says it was crucial to offer the “original” plant-based milk for baristas – soy milk – at just as high a quality level as almond and oat.
“I believe oat milk will become the number one dairy alternative at some stage, sooner rather than later, but almond and soy milk will still have their place,” Rachel says.
“The beauty of having all three in the range is that they suit different tastes and health requirements. Many people who are looking to switch up dairy for an alternative don’t want to sacrifice taste or performance. Our range provides an uncompromised choice, whether it comes down to personal preference or unique dietary requirements.”
Following the successful reformulation of its almond milk recipe in 2020, The Alternative Dairy Co was encouraged to do the same with its soy milk. Rachel says The Alternative Dairy Co is committed to keep evolving its products to meet the needs of baristas.
“We’re constantly taking on feedback from the industry and looking at how we can improve. With the popularity of our oat milk, launched in 2019, we redeveloped our almond milk formula to provide a similar more neutral flavour and creamy mouthfeel. We then realised we could make some improvements to the soy milk along the same lines,” she says.
“We don’t have this idea of perfection and that mindset gives us the drive to continue to improve our products.”
The new Alternative Dairy Co Barista Soy Milk recipe was rolled out in April 2021. Rachel says it received a glowing reception from the café community.
“We’re very proud of our products and when we’re able to improve them and send them out to market with such a positive response, it’s a justification for all the hard work that went into it,” she elaborates.
“Ultimately, when we are talking about soy milk taste, quality, and performance, it always relates directly to the quality of the soy protein.”
That’s why The Alternative Dairy Co Barista Soy Milk is made with a more functional high-quality soy protein, providing superior latte art capability and stability. Tinkering with the mineral content also improved the soy milk’s buffer system to withstand splitting and the protein-to-fat ratio was refined to improve performance and stretchability.
“These changes are all responsible to the superior latte art capability, stability, and also the neutral taste,” Rachel says.
“One of our key scientists who worked on the Barista Soy Milk hates the flavour of soy milk, so he challenged himself to go out and create a soy milk he would like and drink himself. That’s what he did, and that mindset has led to a fantastic product.”
In September 2020, The Alternative Dairy Co plant milks launched across Soul Origin stores nationwide, beginning with its oat and almond, and soy joining them in early 2021.
However, a few Soul Origin franchisees were early adopters of the soy milk, including Gabriel Ruiz Diaz in Blackrock, New South Wales.
“We trialled the three milks for a short period and people responded pretty well to them, so it was an easy switch for us,” Gabriel says. “We’ve been using it in the shop for a while now, have had no issues, and found the plant milks to taste great and be easy to work with.”
Since rolling out the new soy milk recipe, Gabriel says he’s heard the best customer feedback possible: none at all.
“We’ve tried other new products before, not just plant milks but across the café, and people let you know quickly if it’s not right. That has never happened with The Alternative Dairy Co,” Gabriel says.
“When people don’t like something, they will complain and complain loudly, and so they should. Unless they’re polled or directly asked, they won’t tell you how good the product is, so you know it’s working when you don’t hear anything from the customer.”
Jimmy Yohannes of Soul Origin in Randwick, New South Wales, also rolled out the soy milk alongside the oat and almond last year. He tells BeanScene it has been interesting to see how demand had shifted with the introduction of oat milk to the menu.
“After we rolled out The Alternative Dairy Co Oat Milk, people took a liking to it and slowly moved over from other milks,” Jimmy says. “People have also really liked the almond milk and tell us they prefer it to other brands they’ve tried.”
Despite the growth of oat milk, Jimmy’s Soul Origin store still serves multiple soy milk coffees each day and he’s excited to promote the new and improved recipe.
“Our previous soy milk had been in the market for a long time and developed a bit of a strong following. Promoting that The Alternative Dairy Co has a new recipe is going to help encourage them to break out of their old habits and try something new,” he says.
Quality aside, both Gabriel and Jimmy say that supporting an Australian owned, made, and sourced brand like The Alternative Dairy Co was a large factor in why they embraced the soy milk early.
“Especially with the pandemic over the last year, we really try to source locally made and owned brands instead of bringing products from overseas,” Jimmy says. “It was great to be able to share that message with our customers.”
According to the Good Food Lounge – Covid-19 Themes, October 2020 report form Sanitarium and Woolworths, Australian consumer interest in locally made products is gaining momentum. In fact, it was the second fastest growing trend, only behind health as a priority. Though this data is based on grocery sales data, Rachel says this related directly to the café market, where The Alternative Dairy Co encapsulates these two values.
“Why bring in products from overseas when we make great ones here?” Rachel asks. “Being locally produced ensures we can be agile in responding to changes in demand, it’s better for the environment than shipping from the other side of the world, and it all supports the local economy.”
According to more grocery scan data from Sanitarium, soy milks contribute to just over a third of the dairy-free milk market, with 35.6 per cent of sales and 36.8 per cent of volume. Further data suggests soy-based options are the product of choice for newcomers to the market.
“Dairy free growth has been driven by not only new users coming into the category, but also by more people adding dairy-free to their repertoire,” Rachel says.
In the café space, this could mean people switching out dairy for a plant-based milk in one or more of their daily beverages. This trend, where dairy and plant-based milks are more often directly compared, is pushing dairy alternatives to ensure they hold up in quality to cow’s milk.
“Australia is the world leader in café culture and quality, and developing better milk alternatives for baristas will keep us at that forefront,” Rachel says.
“We’re really proud of the new soy milk reformulation. For us, there’s always a continual test and improve process for all of our plant-based milks.”
For more information, visit www.altdairyco.com/barista