Demand for plant-based (vegetable) milk is growing rapidly as health and sustainability awareness increases. The global plant-based milk market is expected to grow from US$22.6 billion in 2020 to US$40.6 billion by 2026. In Japan as well, soy milk, almond milk, oats milk, and other plant-based milks have recently been increasingly seen in supermarkets, convenience stores, and other familiar sales outlets.

In this issue, we would like to introduce 15 cutting-edge plant-based milks from around the world, including some that have not yet been commercialized in Japan.

Table of Contents

1. Soy Milk

Soy milk is the plant-based milk most familiar to Japanese people. Soy milk production in Japan continues to grow, and according to the Japan Soy Milk Association, demand for soy milk, which can be stored for long periods of time, has further increased as consumers have been discouraged from going shopping due to COVID-19. While cow’s milk has a shelf life of only a few days, soy milk can be stored at room temperature for up to three months.

Soy milk is made by soaking soybeans in water, mashing them, adding water, and straining the boiled-down juice. While one cup (200 ml) of cow’s milk contains about 122 kcal, soy milk contains about 88 kcal. it is a high quality protein drink, has a lower fat content than cow’s milk, and contains no cholesterol. It also contains “saponin,” which has antioxidant properties and inhibits the formation of lipid peroxide, “vitamins” B1, B2, B6 and vitamin E, and “oligosaccharides”, which regulate the intestinal tract, making it a popular beverage for its beauty benefits.

In recent years, a variety of soy milk products have been commercialized, and in addition to meals such as soups, casseroles, and sauces made with soy milk, many other dishes such as desserts like yogurt and pudding are becoming established in the average household.

2. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in ethnic cuisines such as Thai and Vietnamese. It is made by straining the pulp of finely chopped coconuts that have been boiled in water.

Its high fat content gives it a rich, sweet, creamy taste. While one cup (200 ml) of cow’s milk has about 122 kcal, coconut milk has about 314 kcal, more than double the calorie content. On the other hand, it contains “potassium”, a type of mineral necessary for the human body to expel sodium, thereby regulating excessive salt intake. It also contains “magnesium”, which helps in the formation of bones and various metabolism in the body, and “medium-chain fatty acids”, which are efficiently broken down in the body to obtain energy and are not easily stored as fat.

3. Oat Milk

Oats milk, also called “oat milk” or “oats wheat milk,” is characterized by its gentle sweetness and mild, habit-free flavor. Compared to other vegetable milks, oat milk is more compatible with coffee and less likely to separate when added to hot drinks, and in recent years, oat milk lattes have been offered at major coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and Blue Bottle Coffee.

Oats milk is made from oats, which are also used in oatmeal and granola. It is rich in plant-derived fiber and contains no cholesterol or gluten.

In Germany, powdered oats milk is sold by the food tech company “Blue Farm”, which addresses the issue of food loss by making it easy to make just the amount needed by adding water when you want to drink it. The powder is also lighter and more compact than liquid oats milk in heavy cartons or bottles, contributing to the reduction of packaging waste and CO2 emissions during transportation.


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4. Rice Milk

Rice milk can be made either by mixing rice flour and water or by fermenting rice into a liquid form. Compared to other plant-based milks, rice milk contains less fat and has a refreshing taste and a slight sweetness derived from rice.

The milk is low risk for food allergies because it does not contain any of the seven specified allergenic substances that processed foods are required to list, including milk, wheat, and peanuts, as well as soybeans, almonds, and cashews, which are 21 items that are equivalent to specified raw materials.

In Japan, rice milk made by sake brewers has been commercialized in recent years, taking advantage of the technology for fermenting rice in sake production.

5. Almond Milk

The manufacturing process for almond milk varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the most common method is to soak almonds in water, add water, crush them, and then strain the paste. It is characterized by its smooth taste and the savory flavor unique to almonds.

Almond milk is rich in vitamin E and dietary fiber. According to Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd. which manufactures and markets the “Almond Effect” almond milk, the vitamin E content in almonds is about three times that of peanuts, and the dietary fiber is equivalent to about nine times that of lettuce. In addition, the product’s sugar-free type has approximately 39 kcal and only 0.9 g of sugar per cup (200 ml), making it a beverage with lower sugar and calories than milk. Furthermore, if unopened, it can be stored at room temperature for approximately 270 days.

Ezaki Glico Co.,Ltd. announced in a company press release that it will begin selling almond milk in mainland China in August 2021, followed by Taiwan in February 2022.

6. Macadamia Milk

Macadamia milk is made from “macadamia nuts”, a nut native to Australia. It is made by straining roasted and mashed macadamia nuts. It has a creamy, mild, buttery taste.

According to Kikkoman Beverage Company, the first Japanese manufacturer to begin producing and selling macadamia milk, macadamia nuts are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and high-quality unsaturated fatty acids. The calorie content per cup (200 ml) of the company’s sugar-free product is approximately 63 kcal, about half that of milk. The shelf life of the product at room temperature is approximately 180 days.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is made from cashew nuts, which are native to Central and South America. Generally, nut milk is made by straining soaked nuts that have been finely ground with water in a blender, but cashews are softer than other nuts such as almonds that they can be made into a beverage without straining. By making it without straining, no residue, called pulp, is produced. Cashews have a sweet and unctuous taste unique to cashews.

According to the official website of “Karashima NUT’S“, a nut milk specialty store in Osaka City, cashew nut milk is rich in “oleic acid”, an unsaturated fatty acid also found in olive oil. This oleic acid is said to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

8. Pistachio Milk

Pistachio milk in glass on gray background. Horizontal orientation. Lactose free. Copy space. Vegan plant based beverage. Close up.

Pistachio milk is characterized by its greenish-beige hue. In Japan, processed pistachio products mixed with milk are sold under the name “pistachio milk,” but pistachio milk as a vegetable milk has not been commercialized as of July 2022.

According to the official website of “Táche”, a pistachio milk brand based in Brooklyn, New York, roasted pistachios are the only nuts that contain all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Pistachios are also the richest source of “vitamin B6”, known to help maintain immune function, among nuts, as well as dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium. The company’s pistachio milk can be stored at room temperature for approximately one year.


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9. Peanut Milk

Peanuts (peanuts), the raw material for peanut milk, are classified as a legume, not a nut. They have a purplish color and a strong flavor that remains distinctive even when baked.

In January 2018, New York-based plant-based milk brand “Elmhurst Milked” introduced its “first ever” peanut milk, “Milked Peanuts”. However, the company discontinued the product two years later, citing “manufacturing difficulties”. Peanuts are one of the three major allergens in the U.S., along with chicken eggs and milk, and in Japan, peanuts are required to be labeled as an allergen that can cause anaphylaxis if ingested in small amounts.

As of August 2022, there are no confirmed late releases of Milked Peanuts, but peanuts are reasonably priced, easily available in terms of distribution, and rich in protein and other nutrients, so some people enjoy making peanut milk at home.

10. Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut milk is a popular standard plant-based milk in the UK. It is said to be a good match for coffee, milkshakes, and cereals, and has a sweet, creamy taste. Alpro, Rude Health, Innocent, Plenish, and many other brands, some are private brands of supermarkets such as “Asda”, the second largest supermarket in the U.K. It is rich in oleic acid, which helps lower blood cholesterol, as well as vitamin E and magnesium.

Also, according to WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), hazelnuts, as a perennial crop, are easy to grow in harsh soils and drought, and are sustainable, requiring no pesticides. They also absorb more carbon than annual crops, reduce soil erosion, and filter pollutants from groundwater.


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11. Hemp Milk

Hemp is a plant derived from hemp, but it does not contain the stimulant compound (THC) found in marijuana. Hemp seeds, also known as “hemp seeds,” are used worldwide for a variety of purposes, including pancake mix and margarine, and in Japan they are commonly found in shichimi chili pepper in their shells.

Hemp milk has a nutty aroma and creamy taste. According to “Pacific Foods”, an Oregon-based company that markets hemp milk, hemp milk contains the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are said to prevent atherosclerosis, and essential amino acids, which are important as a source of energy. One cup (200 ml) of Pacific Foods’ unsweetened hemp milk contains about 50 kcal, less than half the calories of cow’s milk. The company’s official website offers recipes for cakes and soups made with hemp milk.


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12. Pea Milk

Pea milk is made from pea protein. It has a rich taste similar to cow’s milk, but has a clean, refreshing taste without any peculiarities.

In Japan, “Sproud” a peermilk developed by Swedish Foodtech, will be available for purchase from 2021. According to a press release from Revision Co.,Ltd., which markets Sproud, Sproud is made from “yellow peas” and contains no cholesterol. Sproud is cholesterol-free. The calorie content of the sugar-free type is about 50 kcal per cup (200 ml).

In addition, after repeated prototyping to solve the problems with conventional vegetable milk, such as “a distinctive aftertaste, a foul smell, and a watery taste,” “fighting with the taste of coffee and tea, separation, and difficulty in making forms,” and “strong aroma and peculiarities, making it difficult to use in a wide range of recipes,” the company has achieved a milk-like mouth feel and a flavor with no peculiarities, The company says it has achieved a texture that allows the creation of creamy forms. “The British Tea Academy”, an organization for training tea professionals, has selected it as its official partner as “the best plant-based milk for tea”.


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13. Flax Milk

Flaxseed, the ingredient of flax milk, is a small seed from the flax family of plants. In recent years, flaxseed oil has gained popularity as a healthy oil, but as of August 2022, there is no confirmed public sale of flax milk in Japan.

Flax milk has a slightly more savory, sweet nutty flavor than almond milk. According to Good Karma, an American plant-based milk brand, flax milk is rich in omega-3, an essential fatty acid that is said to prevent atherosclerosis.

It also has fewer calories than other plant-based milks, with the company’s unsweetened Flaxmilk having only about 20 kcal per cup (200 ml), about one-sixth the calories of cow’s milk. For this reason, some people who need to limit calories for health reasons choose Flaxmilk as their daily milk.

Good Karma’s official website also offers recipes for smoothies and cakes made with flax milk.


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14. Quinoa Milk

Quinoa is also known as the “mother grain” that supported the food supply of the Incan civilization due to its high nutritional value. In recent years, salads made with quinoa have been sold in convenience stores and supermarkets, and the ingredient is becoming well established in Japan. Although quinoa milk is not yet commonly sold in Japan, quinoa milk is available on some shopping sites, such as “EcoMil”, a Spanish plant-based milk brand.

Quinoa milk has a clean, unctuous aftertaste and a nutty flavor. According to “Keen Wah”, which sells “KEEN WAH MILQ” in Australia, quinoa milk is rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is also suitable for use in children’s diets, such as baby food, because it contains no allergens and is highly digestible, according to the company.


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15. Potato Milk

Potato milk made from potatoes. Sweden-based Veg of Lund launched “DUG” in July 2021, the world’s first potato-based milk.

According to DUG’s official website, growing potatoes requires only about half the land used to grow oats and 1/56th the amount of water used to grow almonds. They contain a well-balanced combination of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates, and 100 grams of potatoes contain about 1/3 of the daily requirement of vitamin C. In the case of the company’s unsweetened potato milk, the calorie content is approximately 78 kcal per cup (200 ml).

The company explains that the potato milk is made “not by squeezing potatoes, but by a patented emulsion of potato and rapeseed oil, which is uniformly dispersed.”


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Editor’s Note

How was it? This time, we introduced 15 kinds of milk, including plant-based milk, which is not yet available in Japan.

In January 2022, Starbucks UK attracted worldwide attention when it eliminated all additional charges for plant-based milk, and competitor COSTA COFFEE soon followed suit. Not long ago, plant-based milk had a strong image as a food for people with allergies or vegans, but as major companies continue to enhance their menus, it is becoming an option for many consumers as well. Restaurants are also likely to differentiate themselves from other restaurants by offering new menu items that utilize plant-based milk.

[Reference Site] Dairy Substitutes Market Size Forecast to Reach US$40.6 Billion by 2026
[Reference Site] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: Food Composition Database
[Reference Site] Japan Soymilk Association: Soymilk production volume for the January-March period of 2022 reached 96,285 liters.
[Reference Site] Japan Soymilk Association: Soymilk Q&A
[Reference Site] Euglena: Is coconut milk good for you? Explains the nutrients contained in coconut milk and the effects that can be expected!
[Reference Site] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare: List of Nutrition and Dietary Terms
[Reference Site] Nisshin Oillio: Basic Knowledge: What are MCTs?
[Reference Site] Glico: Almond Effect
[Reference Site] Started selling almond milk in Taiwan, where the “plant-based milk market” is expanding.
[Reference Site] Kikkoman Soy Milk Brand Site: Macadamia Milk
[Reference Site] Nut milk specialty store Karashima NUT’ S
[Reference Site] TÁCHE
[Reference Site] Peanut milk product discontinued after just 2 years
[Reference Site] WWF: Hazelnuts: great for the environment, but vulnerable to climate change
[Reference Site] Pacific Foods
[Reference Site] GOOD KARMA
[Reference Site] “Sproud”, a sustainable and delicious plant-based milk for coffee, tea, and cooking, has landed in Japan!
[Reference Site] KEEN WAH MILQ
[Reference Site] DUG

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