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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has invested US$65 million in Ripple Foods Inc., a startup beverage company that creates milk-like beverages from yellow peas. The investment is Ripple’s largest to date and brings the two-year-old company’s total funding to US$110 million.

The global market for dairy alternative drinks is expected to reach US$16.3bn in this year alone, according to Innova Market Insights data, a dramatic increase from US$7.4 billion in 2010.

Ripple launched its pea milk at Whole Foods in 2015, and saw dramatic demand for the product, with growth hitting 300 percent in a year.

The Silicon Valley start-up was founded in 2014. Its company mission statement says: “Plant-based foods are delicious above all else.”

The plant-based milk market will continue to soar in the next few years. More mergers and startups in the space will likely be made and the demand will become even more intense.

Whilst consumers look for healthier ways of living, the interest in vegan diets will rise to a tremendous amount, particularly for Millennials. Consumer appetite for plant-based foods and beverages, often labeled as healthier alternatives to dairy and meat, is growing. US milk consumption has dwindled as consumers switch to alternative dairy drinks.

Dairy alternative drinks accounted for seven percent of global dairy launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2016, up from six percent in 2015. Actual global launch numbers more than doubled over a five-year period. Just over half of these launches were positioned as lactose-free, nearly 40 percent as vegan and just under a quarter as GMO-free.

And not only have plant-based milk caused a stir in the industry but as the demand for protein-enriched foods is also a trend that companies are seemingly tapping into.

Consumer demand for dairy alternatives continues to strengthen. Dairy alternatives and the claims around protein are becoming a major part of most dairy players’ product portfolios.

Ripptein is a pea protein beverage that has been made by extracting the protein from the vegetable by a process that the company says strips out the unusual flavor that can often be found in plant-based products.

The result is almost purely protein, according to Ripple’s founders Neil Renninger and Adam Lowry.

FoodIngredientsFirst has reached out to Ripple Foods for further comments on the investment and the pea milk market

For the past four years, investors have put well over US$1 billion each year into food and beverage startups, including Impossible Foods Inc., which makes a red-meat replacement from plants, and Memphis Meats, which grows chicken cells in a laboratory.

Goldman Sachs has noticed the trend of startups and is eager to be a part of the plant-based move: “We are proud to invest in a company that has one of the fastest-growing plant-based product lines,” says Kathy Elsesser, the investment bank’s global chair of consumer retail and health-care groups.

The investment, which was led by Euclidean Capital, includes funding from Khosla Ventures, Fall Line Capital and S2G Ventures, a food and agriculture investment firm started by OpenTable Inc.’s founder.

Plant-based packaging makes its debut
So Delicious Dairy Free has launched a new range of primarily plant-based bottles for its new organic almond milk as part of its strategy to grow as a clean and sustainable brand.

As one of the leaders in the dairy-free beverage space debuts its three new organic nut milk, So Delicious has developed the first primarily plant-based bottle in the refrigerated dairy case for the new line of organic almond milk.

The recyclable bottles are at least 80 percent plant-based, reducing the brand’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The brand continues its legacy with this launch of organic almond milk with cashew, which has seven ingredients or fewer, such as vanilla extract and responsibly sourced coconut sugar.

These new nut milk avoid excessive use of stabilizers and thickeners, allowing the taste of the real ingredients to shine, according to the company.

“Every ingredient has a purpose, and every flavor comes to life in its own unique way,” said Aubrey Yuzva, Senior Brand Manager, So Delicious Dairy Free. “It’s so delicious; you’ll be so surprised it’s such a simple recipe with no extra.”

The latest non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, certified vegan and certified organic nut milk are available in three flavors; vanilla, unsweetened and original, all of which are 50 calories or fewer per serving.

Each flavor includes cashews for added creaminess and is free of carrageenan, artificial flavors, artificial colors, dairy and soy.

Just last week, FoodIngredientsFirst’ sister website NutritionInsight highlighted a new study from McGill University which looked at the four most-commonly consumed types of milk beverages from plant sources around the world – almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk – and compared their nutritional values with those of cow’s milk. After cow’s milk, which is still the most nutritious, soy milk comes out a clear winner. You can read the full story here.

By Elizabeth Green & Gaynor Selby

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