If you’ve been to the alternative milk section of your grocery store recently, then you aware that there is an almost overwhelming number of options. The fact that alternative milk now has its own robust section is significant, and according to the Good Food Institute, 41% of all households in the U.S. purchase plant-based milk. This is a crowded space, but JOI is diversifying this space with its nut pastes that can be blended into fresh plant-based milk at home.
I spoke with the CEO of JOI, Hector Gutierrez, by phone this week to hear more about the company and its products. JOI was founded by three students attempting to solve the issues they found with almond milk, namely that almond milk they found in stores tasted watery, had little nutritional value, and the cartons could not be reused or recycled. To address these issues, the founders created a shelf-stable, smooth paste (called Plant Bases) from different nuts that could be blended with water to create fresh plant-based milk at home. Gutierrez said he could not disclose the exact details of the process behind JOI’s pastes, but essentially unroasted, organic nuts are broken down into particles that are smaller than what you would find in nut butter to create a smooth, creamy paste.
None of the pastes contain gums or other additives, which are typically added to prevent separation in plant-based milk. Therefore the JOI milk must be shaken prior to each use. The Plant Bases are just made from one to three ingredients and come in varieties like almond, cashew, and cashew hazelnut oat. Besides plant-based milk, the pastes can also be used in smoothies, soups, drinks, and desserts.
Gutierrez said that shipping JOI’s Plant Bases in a small container saves a significant amount of shipping energy and space. Other plant-based milk is shipped as a liquid and typically comes in tetra-pack cartons, which makes these products heavier and requires a greater number of shipping pallets than JOI’s products. Additionally, JOI’s plastic containers are reusable and recyclable, while tetra-pack cartons typically are not.
Although there are many plant-based milk options on the market, plant-based milk pastes are not as common. Daily Harvest sells almond paste cubes that can be blended into fresh almond milk. Modern Mylk also produces nut and coconut pastes, and uses a variety of different nuts like macadamia, cashew, and almond.
JOI’s products are currently available for purchase on its website, and a single container has 27 servings (which equates to seven quarts of milk) and retails for $24.99. The Plant Bases are being used at 300+ coffee shops, cafes, and smoothie bars across the U.S., and several undisclosed companies use JOI’s products as an ingredient for their own products.