NotCo, a Chile-based company, is sometimes referred to as the Impossible Foods/Beyond Meat of Latin America. The company produces various alternative products including plant-based mayo, burgers, ice cream, and milk. When they reached out to me recently offering to send samples of their products, I happily accepted.
NotCo uses its patented A.I. platform to determine what plant-based ingredients would best replicate properties found in animal-based ingredients. For example, in its alt-milk products, the two main ingredients are simply water and pea protein. However, there is a small amount of pineapple juice, cabbage juice, sunflower oil, and chicory root, among other natural flavors, added to the milk alternative to bolster its flavor and texture.
The Bezos-backed company sent me a half-gallon of its whole milk and 2 percent milk alternatives. I first poured a small glass of the whole milk and drank it straight up. At first sip, I was surprised by the sweetness of it. Surprisingly, there are only three grams of sugar in a single serving. It had a vanilla flavor with a light aftertaste of coconut. The two percent milk had the same flavor, but tasted a tad bit more watery than the whole milk.
I heated some of the whole milk in a pot on the stove and attempted to produce foam with my handheld frother. I had no luck, and the milk was completely flat after frothing for about two minutes. In defense of NotCo, they do not make any claims about their milk’s ability to froth, and I do not have barista-grade equipment. It makes me wonder if the company has plans to develop a “barista version” of its milk that is meant to produce a thick froth for lattes, like many alternative milk companies have done.
I haven’t had milk for about eight years, but for what it’s worth, NotCo’s NotMilk reminded me of real dairy milk. The sweetness of NotMilk was reminiscent of the sweetness that lactose provides in dairy milk. However, there was something about the NotMilk that still suggested it wasn’t actually dairy. While I couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason, it could very well be the slight aftertaste/mouthfeel of pea protein. Overall, though I would say that NotMilk is a pretty good milk alternative product.
Pea protein, meanwhile, is a popular ingredient in the plant-based space due to its neutral flavor, versatility, and high protein content. It is the second ingredient in NotMilk, and both the whole and 2 percent milk contain four grams of protein in a single serving (one cup). U.S.-based Ripple and Swedish-based Sproud are two other companies that both also produce alternative milk made from pea protein.
NotCo launched its milk in the U.S. last year, and it seems like Oatly will be one of its biggest competitors in the alternative dairy space. Oatly has steadily gained a cult-like following in the U.S. since launching in independent coffee shops in 2016. The Swedish-based company went public this March, and raised $1.4 billion USD through this.
In the U.S., NotCo’s milks are available in stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and some independent grocers and retailers. A half-gallon of the alternative whole or two percent milk normally retails for $4.99.