Mamma Chia debuts Chiamilk: 'We think we're hitting the market at just the right time'

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Mamma Chia debuts Chiamilk: 'We think we're hitting the market at just the right time'

Related tags Chia Mamma Chia plant-based dairy

Mamma Chia has entered the plant-based milk alternative category with Organic Chiamilk containing 0g of sugar and 800mg of omega-3s, with 60 to 70 calories per serving.

Mamma Chia Organic Chiamilk​ is a dairy-free blend of coconut milk, chia oil, and chia protein combined with organic pea protein and fortified with calcium, vitamin D2, and vitamin B12. The new products, packaged in 28-ounce bottles, will be available at Sprouts Farmers Market and other natural food stores beginning in March, with additional retail expansion to come throughout 2020. 

The chiamilk will sit next to other plant-based alternative milk brands in the refrigerated section of retail stores. 

New entries to plant-based milk category

Plant-based milk alternatives make up the largest segment of the plant-based food and beverage market with $1.67bn in dollar sales in the past year (IRI POS, MULOC, 52 weeks ending 10-06-19). ​While the category is arguably the most mature of the plant-based food and beverage market, founder and CEO of Mamma Chia, Janie Hoffman, argues that plant-based milks are catching a second wind of mainstream consumer adoption.

"When my Midwestern mother is switching to non-dairy milk, it's a huge indicator that this is more than mainstream. We think we're hitting the market at just the right time,"​ Hoffman told FoodNavigator-USA, also noting that most of the competition in the plant-based milk alternative space is not organic, a point of differentiation for the Mamma Chia brand. 

According to Mintel data from September 2018, the non-dairy milk consumer is diversifying the amount and types of dairy-free alternatives in their fridge. Nearly half (49%) of consumers who purchase plant-based dairy alternative milks are frequently buying more than one type. 

Additionally, Research and Market's global chia seed market 2019 report shows that the chia seed market is one of the fastest-growing commodity markets globally and is projected to reach $2.95bn by 2022 -- an annual growth rate of 40.6%.

Taste and mouthfeel: 'It can stand on its own'

"Even if it's something good for you, it has to taste phenomenal. Mouthfeel has always been important to us,"​ said Hoffman

"It really does outperform other alternative milks in the market. We've done blind taste testing time and time again, and they always picked Mamma Chia,"​ claimed Hoffman.

"More importantly, it can stand on its own,"​ Hoffman added, explaining that consumers aren't only enjoying to wet their cereal but as a standalone drink that provides a neutral taste and comparable mouthfeel to dairy milk. 

The nutrition: More calcium than dairy milk

"We wanted to have just a little bit of extra protein and we don't call it out, but 2g is not an insignificant amount,"​ she said.

And while chiamilk may not be nutritionally equivalent in terms of protein to dairy milk and other plant-based, dairy-free brands, it delivers on several other key nutrients with 800mg of omega-3s (short chain), MCTs (from the coconut oil), zero grams of sugar for both its unsweetened and vanilla SKUs, and 60% of the daily value of vitamin D and 30% daily serving of calcium (389 mg). 

"We wanted that vitamin mix to be as good as if not better than traditional milk,"​ noted Hoffman.

However, for consumers looking for a bumped dose of protein, Mamma Chia launched chia protein smoothies made with chiamilk in fall 2019 containing 13g of plant-based protein per 12-ounce serving. 

Where next for the plant-based dairy alternatives space? Can newcomers to the category like chiamilk be as big as almond milk? We'll dig into this topic and many others during FoodNavigator-USA's FREE-TO-ATTEND Beverage Trends webinar on Thursday, March 19th at 12:30 p.m. EST


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