This plant-based milk alternative promises to entice you with its flavour
In 2022, the term plant-based is no longer relegated to being a fad. It is instead a way of life. Whether vegetarian by birth due to customs and traditions, or by choice to save the planet, people are looking for plant-based alternatives to every conceivable item derived from animals. The product that has seen the most iterations in recent years is milk, with a number of tasty and healthy plant-based milk alternatives available in the market. Oat milk from a brand called, headquartered in Bengaluru, is the most recent entrant to make waves in the segment.
“Alt Co was launched in the third quarter of 2020 to meet the demands of the emerging Indian market. The plant-based sector is growing tremendously due to globalisation, urbanisation and the growing culture of conscious consumption among consumers, especially millennials. Research shows consumer preferences in the plant-based industry are bound to grow higher as health and environment consciousness continues to grow. Therefore, Alt Co was born to meet the market demands of quality plant-based alternatives, especially to milk,” shares Sumair Sachdev, one of the co-founders and the Chief Operating Officer of Alt Co in a chat with YS Weekender.
A healthy alternative
The brand was launched through the collective vision Alt Co's core team comprising Basan Patil, Rithwik Ramesh, Rohit Kalro, Sasha Jairam and Sumair. All of them come from diverse educational backgrounds including international relations, finance, marketing, fashion and lifestyle, bringing fresh perspectives on board. Sumair believes their varied educational and professional backgrounds coupled with their individual skills proved to be a perfect combination to launch Alt Co.
“Our vision was plain and simple - to create a homegrown brand that was better for the people consuming our product and for the planet. The health and environmental benefits of plant-based products far outweigh those of its traditional counterpart. It’s amazing that we can already see a shift in consumer patterns. Oat milk, which is our debut product, is extremely nutritious and uses far less water than animal-based products,” explains Sumair.
The team came up with the idea when they saw a clear market gap - a lack of premium and accessible plant-based products in India. Having seen the success of global industry leaders such as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Califia Farms and others, they felt it was time to launch this initiative in the Indian market too.
The team is now working to create a diversified portfolio with reasonably priced products aimed at the mass market by venturing into the B2B and D2C space.
While other plant-based alternatives such as soy and almond milk have been around for a while, oat milk is a relatively new product in the Indian market. This is why Alt Co chose to start with this plant-based variant. He explains, “We have focused intensively on creating a product that satisfied the palette of consumers through several trials. Our raw materials and unique formulation technique has helped us create an accessible product in India that was traditionally available only in the West.”
Products on offer
Currently only manufacturing oat milk in the original flavour, Alt Co is soon going to launch flavoured variations. These will include chocolate flavoured oat milk and other ready to drink oat based beverages. There are also plans to manufacture other plant based alternatives including almond and soy milk.
“Our products are different from those of other market players in two ways. Firstly, we have invested heavily in research and development to create a product backed by science which is also flavourful in taste. Secondly, our equipment is the top of its class and the first of its kind in the nation. Through the expertise of our external consultants we sought to create an oat milk based on global standards,” shares Sumair.
The formulation of the products is done by their in-house team. They also rely on the expertise of external consultants from around the globe. Sumair proudly declares that their chosen consultants are some of the best in the world and through their knowledge and experience, they have been able to put in extensive research and development to deliver quality products.
Alt Co products are sold both online and offline in brick and mortar stores. They are available online across 15 different platforms including the Alt Co website, Amazon, Flipkart, Blink it, Vegan Dukaan and others. They are also in physical stores located across India including Nature’s Basket, Le Marche, Simpli Namdharis, Modern Bazaar and others.
Sumair shares, “So far, brand awareness has grown through multiple channels such as social media, cross collaborations with brands such as Paul & Mike, café’s and curated events. Thankfully, word of mouth has proven to be a really powerful tool, for which we are grateful. The plant based community, health and lifestyle enthusiasts and the cafe community have really amplified our product’s reach due to its taste and quality.”
Alt Co’s oat milk has been winning hearts for its texture and taste, and Sumair believes it also blends well with coffee. Hence, cafes such as Thirdwave Coffee Roasters, Blue Tokai, KC Roasters, Cafe Bi Di Bella and others have adopted it readily, he claims.
Challenges and growth
Speaking about the challenges faced so far, Sumair says, “As India’s plant-based industry is still at a nascent stage, it’s been challenging to capture a large market who have been hesitant to try the product. Interestingly though, only an initial push is required to get people to try it - similar to a cost of acquisition. After this, we see an extremely high success rate of people switching over. We have been trying to push for larger brand awareness and are optimistic that more and more consumers are shedding their bias against lack of taste in plant based products through trials.”
The company is completely bootstrapped so far, yet Sumair claims they have witnessed exponential growth with the market accepting and embracing them. They are also in the process of expanding their team.
He highlights that within just six months of launching the brand, their product has gained visibility on all major online platforms and retail stores across India. The biggest motivation is the visibility they have received in Tier II cities alongside Indian metros. Alt Co’s brand design and packaging has received international recognition by the World Brand Design Society.
Sumair signs off with, “We’re looking at pan-India expansion with a large and diversified portfolio of everything plant based. We want our products to be easily available everywhere and eventually wish to reduce the price difference between regular products and plant-based alternatives.”