The refrigerated MALK brand – which uses high-pressure-processing (HPP), and no preservatives, thickeners, or emulsifiers, and contains more than one cup of sprouted organic nuts in every bottle - is now available in 2,000 stores, said co-founder and CEO August Vega, who first started pitching the brand to farmers markets in 2014.
Whole Foods is carrying unsweetened almond MALK and unsweetened vanilla almond MALK in the Pacific Northwest, Southern Pacific, Midwest, North Atlantic, South, Florida and Mid-Atlantic, while other flavors such as maple pecan MALK and unsweetened cashew MALK will also be sold in existing regions such as the Southwest, the Northeast, Northern California and the Rocky Mountains.
“We launched in H.E.B. in Texas about eight weeks ago, so we’re building momentum there. We’re also in more than 200 Target stores in California and we’re gaining momentum there as well.
“We were national with Kroger, and then pulled back a little so we could go back in in a more focused way, but we’re doing very very well there. When you direct deliver you have to supply every store that pulls from that DC even where it doesn’t make sense for your brand, so initially we were in some stores where people were not even buying plant milks yet, so were probably not going to go for a premium option straight away.”
Consumers are attracted to MALK, first because it has a cool label, and second, because it’s cold-pressed, organic, and the ingredients list contains what they would use if they made nut milk at home, says co-founder August Vega, who co-owns MALK with her brother Justin Brodnax (who handles production/operations) and cousin Joel Canada (who works with Vega on the sales side). It is manufactured at a company-owned site in Houston, Texas, and undergoes high pressure processing (HPP) at a nearby toll facility. Each SKU has been validated to show it meets FDA requirements mandating control of clostridium botulinum, said Vega.
“I used to make almond milk for my son with nuts and water and salt, because fresh almond milk is just one of the best things I ever tasted, but I didn’t really have time to make it, so I started buying it, but there was nothing on the market that was anything like what I made at home.”
Unsweetened almond MALK contains three ingredients: organic almonds, Himalayan salt, and filtered water, whereas nut milk brands often contain gums and hydrocolloids for a thicker texture, emulsifiers such as soy or sunflower lecithin, flavors, and added vitamins, said Vega.