Are you going dairy free? Are there vegans in your team? As a business, are you looking for ways to operate more sustainably? There are lots of reasons that people are switching to plant-based milks. As a growing market, sales of plant-based or alt-milks are booming. In 2020, sales in the UK of all plant-based milk reached an estimated £394 million. That’s a 32% increase from 2019. Traditional cow’s milk sales remain much higher with estimated sales at £3.2 billion.
However, there’s no denying that demand for plant-based milk is on the rise. If you’re not offering at least one or two alternatives to dairy milk in the office, you may be missing a trick. Statistically, it’s likely that you’ll have some people in your team who favour a plant-based milk so it makes sense to cater for their needs. It’s a simple way to show you care about their well-being at work and that helps to support a positive workplace culture.
With so many alternatives to cow’s milk, which should you choose? The list of alt milks is vast and growing. Varieties include oat milk, hemp milk, pea milk, potato milk, rice milk, and soy milk. Alongside the most popular nut-based milk which is made from almonds, you can also get nut milks from pecan, cashew, hazelnut, walnut, macadamia and more. In this article, we’re going to focus on almond milk and explore its pros and cons to help you understand what’s right for your office.
What is almond milk?
Almond milk is as the name suggests, a liquid that’s made from almonds. Almonds are soaked in water to make them soft and then blended down to make a pulp and from that, milk can be strained. It’s fairly easy to make at home, although it’s more convenient to buy it in a carton.
You’ll find that commercially-produced cartons of almond milk tend to contain more water than almonds when compared to homemade almond milk. If you check out the ingredient list, you’ll also see that many of them include emulsifiers. You can purchase two main varieties, sweetened and unsweetened, although you can also get flavoured varieties like vanilla and chocolate.
Many are fortified with vitamins and minerals to add health benefits. Top brands to look out for include Innocent, Alpro, Rude Health, Blue Diamond, Plenish and more. Many supermarkets also make their own branded almond milk which tends to be more affordable.
Almond milk is the most popular nut milk, but overall the most popular alt milk is oat. Brits spent an estimated £146 million on oat milk in 2020, up from £74 million in 2019. Sales of almond milk also eclipsed the £100 million mark. It rose from £96 million in 2019 to £105 million in 2020. Its popularity means it can be easily found in your high street cafe, supermarket and local store.
Is almond milk good for you?
There are lots of health benefits to switching to plant-based milk. Firstly, it’s not a bad choice if you’re calorie counting. One cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole dairy milk and 86 calories in skimmed milk. There’s no cholesterol or saturated fat in almond milk. It’s also low in salt and high in healthy omega-fatty acids which help to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.
It contains the powerful antioxidant vitamin E which is great for healthy skin. And as long as you opt for unsweetened versions of almond milk, it will also be low in sugar and other preservatives. Naturally, it contains no lactose, making it suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. Of course, if you have a nut allergy, you’ll want to keep well away from almond milk.
Does almond milk work well in tea and coffee?
A common problem with almond milk is that it can be tricky for it to mix properly with tea and coffee and it can curdle in your hot drink. If you let your coffee cool slightly and then add the milk, that should help. However, in barista-style drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, due to the milk having a low-fat content it makes it harder to froth and hold its shape. Its nutty flavour does however add a pleasant nuance to coffee drinks when made correctly.
Is almond milk sustainable?
All non-dairy milks are generally better for the environment than cow’s milk, although almond milk is not as environmentally friendly as you’d perhaps think. The main environmental concern surrounding almond milk is its production.
Production involves high pesticide use and huge water consumption. That makes it even worse when you factor in that 80% of almond orchards are grown in drought-stricken California, where water is in high demand. It takes a staggering 6,098 litres of water to produce just 1 litre of almond milk according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
On the plus side, almond milk does however have one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than dairy milk.
What’s right for my business?
Having been in the office coffee business for nearly 40 years, we understand that every office is different. We suggest trialling a few different types of plant-based milk to see if there’s an appetite for them. Alternatively, just ask your team what would work for them.
We tend to recommend oat milk as a starter. It’s a good all-rounder and it doesn’t taste dissimilar to cow’s milk, making it a good option for those making the switch. If you need any advice, simply get in touch with the team. You can also purchase Minor Figures oat milk from our online shop to get you started on your plant-based journey.