WHY THE DAIRY ALTERNATIVE MARKET IS GOING TO HELP DAIRY

Bring your own butter. Bring your own milk. Not your ordinary request for a supper club guest. Our first dairy/dairy-alternative supper club at The New Craftsmen, was no ordinary supper club though, in any shape or form.

We invited down producers, farmers, chefs, nutritionists and food writers to join us in celebrating milk, both dairy and dairy alternatives. This evening wasn’t about pitting dairy against dairy-free but instead sharing an enthusiasm for extra-ordinary quality.

Each guest was asked to bring a dish to the table on this theme – and what a spread it was.

We munched and marvelled on:

Joey O’Hare’s Vegan Cashew Labneh and Vegan Truffles

The Collective Dairy’s Yoghurt Chive Salmon Dip

Native’s Spiced Pickled Carrots with Saffron Butter and Fermented Sour Cream

The Estate Dairy’s Jersey Milk

Native’s White Chocolate and Bone Marrow Truffles

Felicity Spector’s Tahini Cookies with Rose Buttercream

Tom Hunt’s Pure Labneh and Caramelised Whey

Freaks of Nature’s Dairy-Free Puddings

La Fromagerie’s Selection of Cheese, Sourdough and Raw Milk Butter

Rude Health Café’s Cheese and Kimchi Toasties, rhubarb compote and Dairy-Free Pear and Hazelnut Cake

Olia Hercules’ Butter Roasted Aubergine

Butter Culture’s Cultured Butter

Melissa Hemsley’s Jamon Iberico and Pecorino

Cicioni’s Fermented Nut Cheese

Eve Kalinik’s Pickled Ewes Milk Cheese and Cru 8’s Dehydrated Crackers

Hurdlebrook Dairy’s Raw Milk and Yoghurt

Niamh Shield’s Cheese

Tom Hunt’s caramelised whey,

Rubies in the Rubble’s Pickles and Chutney’s made from surplus veg

Newton and Pott’s Pickled Cucumbers

Original Beans’ Chocolate

Hang on, a dairy-free producer celebrating dairy?

That’s right. We didn’t create dairy alternative drinks because we think you should all be drinking them instead of milk, we created them as a refreshing alternative to milk. For the same reason our Ultimate Muesli was born, because we weren’t satisfied with the options we had available to us at the time…and felt more choice was needed.

We, as a health conscious brand, are concerned about the confused understanding of what makes food healthy. The ‘free-from’ shelves are swamped with ‘healthy’ plant-based alternatives loaded with carrageenan, flavourings, fructose, emulsifiers, gums – none of which are natural, none of which are ‘healthy’, all of which play havoc with your gut.

In a perfect world, we would all make all our food ourselves all the time, but we have lives to live outside the kitchen and expect to be able to buy healthy food when we don’t have time to make it. We believe strongly in knowing where your ingredients come from, and keeping them recognisable and flavoursome too. Our dairy-free drinks are no exception, made using organic kitchen ingredients so you never have to compromise on quality – whatever choice you make.

If you want to hear us rant about the full free-from fraud, check out our piece here.

What about dairy milk?

We believe strongly that you shouldn’t have to compromise on dairy either. The same attention to quality, responsible sourcing, taste, innovation and flavour should be said for milk too.

 Remember the days when milk came in one form, straight from the cow with a thick rim of cream on the top in glass sealed bottle? Just.

The recent rise of intolerances to foods automatically makes us assume that foods – like dairy – are bad for us. In essence, our food hasn’t changed; it’s the way that we produce it which has. Producers compromise the quality of our food in order to make it last longer, more uniform and also cheaper. As long as we can get what we want, how we want, whenever we want it, we seem to be ok with turning a blind eye to the underlying situation.

Red, green or blue – take your pick.

 This is now how we think of supermarket milk…as a colour-coded commodity. No quality, no branding, no provenance. Any value that has been in milk has been destroyed, and with it our connection with the producer too. There is now nothing to buy into other than fat level and lid colour.

No wonder milk farmers are barely getting the cost of production for their milk and their numbers are steadily dwindling. We only have ourselves to blame.

Packed with calcium, potassium, phosophorus, protein, vitamin A, D, B-12 riboflavin and niacin – milk, of high quality, is far from an ordinary commodity.

This supper club was a chance for us to stop thinking of milk – and dairy – as a low value ‘commodity’ and start appreciating its true flavour and nourishment. It was a time to connect with the producer again, shake their hands and hear their story…just like our ancestors did. Hello Dave from Hurdlebrook.

As a dairy alternative drinks producer, aren’t we making it worse for dairy farmers though?

We aren’t in a position to make dairy yet, however, our dairy-free drinks have proved people are buying for ingredients and quality. Consumers will pay up for, and buy into health, trend and brand. If dairy alternatives are being seen as more than just a necessary commodity, there is no reason milk can’t be valued in the same way too. Let’s just make it happen.

The rise of micro producers:

There is hope. Food is being ‘luxed’ up and going ‘Gucci’ us on elsewhere so there’s no reason we can’t give milk a makeover.

Look at Street Food. If you go to Broadway Market, Borough Market, Kerb, Maltby Street at the weekend, choosing between a lobster claw sourdough sandwich or miso beef brisket brioche, king prawn momo or Gochujang & sesame pork shoulder kimchi burrito for lunch will now be the norm. What a time to be alive.

Take coffee. 20 years ago 90% of us had Nescafé in our cupboards as the only option. Again, we’ve now got more choice than we ever have …not just on taste, but on flavour of beans, which country, the style of roast, acidity levels, fair trade, ethical etc…the choices are endless. Take Caravan, Ozone, Cru just to name a few.

Look at bread too. 5 years ago we were all living on supermarket white processed garbage. Now there is a huge movement in micro bakeries such as Bread Ahead, E5 Bakehouse, Happy Tummy Co, Luminery Bakery, Fabrique etc. Tamagotchi’s are back. Now it looks like kneading, craft bread and baking is too.

Craft Dairy?

The dairy market may well be behind but this event proved there are movers out there shaking up dairy. Take Jess’s Ladies, The Estate Dairy, and Hurdlebrook Dairy – all small brands making the highest quality dairy through attention to sourcing and connection with the cow.

What a time to build a brand now with social media, there’s no better vehicle for marketing your food or drink, shouting about provenance, sourcing and telling your brand story. We’re talking about you Butter Culture.

Dave from Hurdlebrook Dairy was proud to say he sells enough milk at Notting Hill farmers market every Saturday in 4 hours to make his 2.5 hour journey from Surrey worth while. The demand is there, we’re ready and waiting for a milk revolution.

So, seek out small producers, embrace the choice we have available, and never compromise on the quality of your milk – dairy or diary free. It makes up ¾ of your cappuccino after all.

 

Join the debate:

Dairy-Free drinks, replacement or alternative?

When did milk become a colour coded commodity?

What’s this about A1 vs A2 proteins?

Puss in milk, the mad milk myths of the 21st Century?

Craft coffee, what about craft milk?

The free from fraud, what’s with the additives, emuslifiers and stabilisers?

Is the dairy-free market actually proving a demand for high quality dairy?

Wow no cow. The rise of veganism in generation Z, will anyone be drinking milk in 5 years time?

Milk vs Methane