- NotCo’s plant-based NotMilk line, which includes a whole milk and a 2% reduced-fat milk, is now available at Whole Foods stores across the US.
- The NotMilks are made with the help of Giuseppe, NotCo’s artificial intelligence algorithm.
- Unlike nut and oat milks, the NotMilks are made with ingredients like pineapple, cabbage, chicory, and coconut.
- “We have seen the plant-based growth trajectory accelerate in the current pandemic scenario as people increasingly looked for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to their diets,” CEO and founder of NotCo Matias Muchnick told Business Insider in an email interview.
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Many popular alternative milk makers have been relying on items like nuts or oats to serve as the base of their vegan milks. NotCo, however, has taken a different approach to develop its non-dairy milk.
Instead of creating a milk with a single food profile, like almond milk or oat milk, NotCo’s milk uses a mix of non-traditional ingredients that were in-part decided by the company’s artificial intelligence program named “Giuseppe.”
These ingredients include cabbage, peas, and pineapple.
“In the case of NotMilk, the unexpected combination of pineapple and cabbage brings the dairy taste notes that we are used with regular milk,” Matias Muchnick, the CEO and founder of NotCo, told Business Insider in an email interview. “Chicory and coconut help with the texture and peas bring up the protein so that we have a balanced product for people to have in their diets.”
According to NotCo, this variety gives the NotMilks a taste and texture that rivals that of “real” milk without using dairy products. This authenticity in flavour and feel is an important aspect of the alternative milk as the company says 33% of vegan milk purchasers in the US end up buying dairy milk again due to a “compromise in taste.”
This is also why the NotCo team â€” which recently announced an $US85 million funding round with investors like Bezos Expeditions and L Catterton â€” decided to stray away from the popular “nut milk” route.
“More and more consumers are looking for including healthier and more sustainable products in their diets, but the alternatives in the market miss something â€” whether that be look, taste or texture,” Muchnick wrote. “But NotMilk has it all.”
NotCo’s goal is to “disrupt” three sections: eggs, dairy, and meat.
NotCo currently has two types of vegan milk in its product line: the NotMilk whole and NotMilk 2% reduced-fat. According to Muchnick, the alternative milk has already started selling out at several Whole Foods Markets across the country, noting that each variety is seeing sales.
NotCo’s Giuseppe technology was also used to create the company’s other products â€” including the NotIceCream, NotBurger, and NotMayo â€” and NotCo will continue to “explore” different food products with the help of artificial intelligence.
The company’s NotMeat line is already being used in Papa John’s vegan pizza in Chile, and by Burger King in the Rebel Whopper in the UK.
Right now, the NotMilk is the company’s most popular product offering, but Muchnick is expecting to also see the NotBurger grow in popularity now that it’s been unveiled in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
“We have seen the plant-based growth trajectory accelerate in the current pandemic scenario as people increasingly looked for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to their diets,” Muchnick wrote.
The company is also planning to expand to other retailers, restaurants, and the fast-food industry in the “near future,” according to Muchnick.
The crossroads between environmentally conscious food products, food science, and artificial intelligence
According to NotCo’s website, the NotMilk uses 92% less water, 74% less energy, and emits 74% fewer emissions than regular dairy milk.
“We believe that replicating animal products we all love to eat but made from plants gives us all an opportunity to reduce our environmental impact without even realising it,” NotCo wrote in its frequently asked questions page.
According to Muchnick, two NotCo teams, the “AI Chef Team” and the “Food Science” team, use Giuseppe, which is named after Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
The AI Chef Team is in charge of trialing the new prototyped formulas to create a product that’s “sensorially similar” to dairy milk, while the Food Science team focuses on the “functional and molecular properties of ingredients” by testing the different ingredient mixes in their laboratory.
The company’s AI Team also created software that helps analyse the ingredients Giuseppe proposes in order to “optimise the design of their experiments,” according to Muchnick.
These experiments then help the artificial intelligence algorithm to “further understand the large landscape of food science,” Muchnick wrote.
“As our artificial intelligence continues to evolve its cognitive skills, we will continue to improve our processes even further, getting new products faster to market and entering more categories in the near future,” Muchnick wrote in the interview.