July 24, 2024
Sugarcane milk is a potential game-changer in the plant-based milk market


As demand for plant-based milk alternatives continues to grow, consumers are inundated with options ranging from almond and soy to oat and rice milks. The plant-based milk industry has expanded at an astonishing rate, offering lactose-intolerant individuals and vegans a range of dairy-free options. However, an exciting new contender may soon be joining the lineup, which will not only deliver a similar taste to dairy milk but also offer a shelf life of up to three years. Enter sugarcane milk, a revolutionary product made through precise fermentation.

Sugarcane milk is set to revolutionize the plant-based milk market, thanks to the innovative process behind its manufacturing. According to Professor Mark Turner, a renowned expert in food microbiology at the University of Queensland, sugar milk is derived from sugarcane, molasses and other by-products. These components serve as feedstock for yeast, which, through a precise fermentation process, produces a protein that is almost identical to the protein found in dairy milk. This breakthrough technology has attracted the attention of many startup companies in Australia and overseas, with scientists confident that it has reached a critical stage of development.

The most attractive aspect of sugarcane milk is its nutritional profile. Professor Turner explains that the protein present in sugarcane milk is very similar to animal proteins, such as those found in cow’s milk and eggs. This similarity makes sugarcane milk an excellent source of protein, which can increase the protein content of various foods when combined with other ingredients in the final product. Cow’s milk protein, known as casein, is renowned for its high-quality protein content, which contains all the essential amino acids and is highly bioavailable.

In collaboration with the Queensland Government and Asia-Pacific fermentation company Cauldron, sugarcane milk production is to take place at the world-leading Future Foods Biohub in Mackay. The Queensland Government has provided substantial funding of $528,000 to get the project started, and Cauldron is eagerly awaiting regulatory approval to proceed. Cauldron CEO, Michelle Stansfield, highlights the collaborative efforts of sugarcane growers and scientists, emphasizing their dedication to developing this innovative product.

Ms. Stansfield emphasizes that the goal is not to replace the existing food industry, but to complement and complement it for the future. By creating an alternative value stream for the sugar industry, they hope to stabilize pricing fluctuations and ensure the continued use of sugar in an ever-changing nutrition market landscape.

The Sugarcane Milk Project is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the sugar industry and farming communities. Although this may lead to a reduction in sugar exports, it offers the potential for crop growth and economic development within the region. According to Jannik Olejas, CEO of Mackay Sugar, selling products domestically rather than exporting can reduce international transportation costs for producers, which will benefit local farmers. Kevin Borg, president of Canegrowers Mackay, believes this innovative technology presents an opportunity for premium pricing, where farmers supply the cane, and experts do the science.

As sugarcane milk has emerged as a viable contender in the plant-based milk market, conversations have intensified about its impact on the dairy industry and consumers’ preferences.

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