Made from 100 per cent plant-based ingredients and developed with a patented AI technology that mimics animal-based foods, NotMilk, by NotCo, is the next generation of dairy-free milk. It tastes, feels and performs just like real cow’s milk. I caught up with Robert Rochon, NotCo’s general manager in Canada, to discuss the product and the company’s future plans.
What’s the inspiration behind NotMilk?
RR: At NotCo, it started with the question, “Is there a way for us to produce food in a more efficient way? Can we get our protein and source the nutrition that we need directly from plants without compromising the taste?” Industries that utilize technology continue to advance over the years, while the food industry has remained the same with little to no innovation, till now. We cannot continue to feed over seven billion human beings the same way. We need to explore more sustainable options, and that’s what drove us to combine the power of tech and a culinary team to create a first-of-its-kind AI technology, Giuseppe. Milk was something we felt we had to tackle because it can be found in every meal from breakfast cereals and omelets to pasta and baking recipes, not to mention all kinds of beverages. We wanted to create an option for the consumer who might be lactose intolerant, or simply want an option with less sugars, or those motivated to minimize their carbon footprint.
What processing challenges were encountered when developing NotMilk, and how were they overcome?
RR: One of the biggest challenges we faced is the process to develop NotMilk itself. It takes a combination of a culinary team and machine to achieve the perfect composition, taste, and look, efficiently and sustainably. The objective wasn’t to simply offer another milk alternative. We set out to create a plant-based milk that has the same creamy texture and taste, and pours and cooks just like dairy milk, without compromise.
What’s been the response to NotMilk?
RR: The responses from consumers have been truly gratifying. We’ve received acknowledgment across many platforms, and the comments on social media tell us Canadian consumers love NotMilk. We love reading all the comments that describe the taste and texture of NotMilk as mind blowing. With all the recent interest in plant-based products, we knew it was the right time to bring NotMilk to consumers. We are seeing an increase in what we call “flexitarians,” individuals who are interested in incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets for various reasons. Even those who aren’t currently eating plant-based diets have expressed the incredible likeness.
Where are the ingredients sourced?
RR: In North America, our production is local. We try to source locally as much as we can, and where we can’t, our ingredients are sourced all over the world.
Please explain the technology that helped develop Not Milk.
RR: Our patented AI technology, Giuseppe, mimics animal-based foods using plant-based ingredients. It all starts by asking Giuseppe to match the recipe of an animal-based product. It will analyze the product at the molecular level and then replicate it using only plant-based goodness. In the case of Notmilk, we combined a few ingredients including cabbage juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, and pea protein in order to recreate the same creamy texture and taste as dairy milk.
How long did it take from concept to launch of the product?
RR: We spent two years perfecting our first product, and NotMilk took us a year-and-a-half to develop. As we create more, we become more efficient at it. Our technology also continues to learn and develop in the process, enabling us to offer more innovations to consumers.
What are your future plans?
RR: We want to expand our categories. We’d love to be in every pantry and kitchen, providing sustainable and innovative options that are better for the planet, and better for you without making any compromise on taste and texture.