Nestlé launches plant-based Milo chocolate malt drink in Thailand
15 Feb 2022 --- Swiss food giant Nestlé is shaking up the beverage market in Thailand with a new soy-based version of chocolate malt beverage firm favorite, Milo.
Consumers in Asia are demanding more plant-based alternatives in their diet which has prompted Nestlé to launch plant-based versions of several of its popular beverages in the region such as Milo and Nescafé in Malaysia and Nescafé and Starbucks in Japan.
“Plant-based beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Thailand as people look to lessen their environmental impact and take care of their health. We believe this launch will help create a positive trend toward plant-based alternatives,” says Chaiyong Sakulborrirug, business executive officer, dairy & adult nutrition, Nestlé Thailand.
Nestlé was one of several financial backers in a US$4 million seed round for Sundial Foods, a plant-based meats company mimicking chicken wings, in November 2021. Sundial Wings creates fully plant-based skin, meat and bone chicken wings pegged as going “beyond meat.” The California-based vegan start-up expects its chicken wings to be available in US restaurants in spring 2022.
Developing various dairy alternatives
Nestlé is focused on developing a wide variety of dairy alternatives made from pea, rice, oat, soy, coconut and almonds. The company’s R&D center in Singapore serves as the regional innovation hub for the development of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in Asia.
The center contributes significantly to the innovation of dairy alternatives for both powdered and ready-to-drink beverages, both regionally and globally.
“We're expanding our plant-based offerings with nutritious, tasty, products that complement the everyday diet of people in Asia for many different meal occasions. We leverage our expertise in dairy proteins, nutrition science, plant sciences, as well as culinary arts, to adapt the products to local preferences and needs,” says Guglielmo Bonora, head of Nestlé’s R&D center in Singapore.
Harnessing nutritional value and flavor
The new Milo Soy has strong nutritional values. A 180ml carton offers around 5g of protein, is high in calcium and contains vitamins and minerals. The carton is designed for recycling and comes with a paper straw.
The need for plant-based dairy alternatives that taste great and offer strong nutritional value is rising as more families are following this trend. More than 40% of consumers in the Asia region are shifting to more plant-based diets, with 11% opting for vegetarian and vegan food and a third moving to a 'flexitarian' diet that is lighter on meat and dairy products, the company reports.
Recently Nestlé highlighted its reformulation efforts following UK media reports that 60% of the company’s portfolio did not meet a “recognized definition of health.” The company began a project to update its pioneering nutrition and health strategy.
By Inga de Jong
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