Deep in a laboratory at Lund University, Eva Tornberg developed an emulsion technology to blend potatoes and rapeseed oil. Her innovation may fuel a new trend in 2022: potato milk.
Yep, the emerita professor in Lund’s Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition will help set potato milk on grocery shelves, alongside plant-based alternamilks made from soy, almond, cashew, oat, quinoa, coconut, barley, hazelnut, macadamia and hemp.
The Swedish brand DUG, owned by Veg of Lund, is already getting hyped up on social media and has the internet in a froth over the new milk substitute. It comes in three flavors: original, unsweetened and barista, which is recommended for hot drinks. We’ll see if DUG stays on the market longer than the late Canadian product Veggemo, which combined potato with peas and cassava for a creamy but allegedly bitter brew. First, we’ll have to get our hands on some. Distribution is still very limited in the U.S.
So what does potato milk have to offer that other dairy and faux milk products lack? Sustainability. If people switched from cow milk to potato milk, they could lower their climate impact by 75%, according to DUG’s website.
But even if you’re already a sworn devotee of plant-based milks, potato milk has the sustainability advantage over nuts and other non-cow milk sources. Unlike notoriously thirsty almonds, potatoes require less water. According to DUG’s statistics, potatoes need 56 times less water than almonds growing in the same amount of acreage. And growing potatoes is about twice as efficient as growing oats, perhaps the star milk alternative of 2021.
DUG’s three options have similar ingredients: mostly water, potatoes, maltodextrin, pea protein, chicory fiber, rapeseed oil, an acidity regulator, sunflower lecithin as an emulsifier, calcium carbonate added vitamins and flavor and sweeteners, depending on which you choose. Some of these more mysterious ingredients help to blend the drink and make the texture palatable.
While potatoes get a bad rap, leave off the sour cream and bacon bits and keep them out of the deep fryer and they’re nutritionally sound. Potatoes have lots of fiber and potassium, plus some vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, folate and niacin. However, potatoes only make up about 6% of DUG, with the majority being water, so you’ll only consume a little bit of potato goodness if you pour it over your cereal, and less if you splash it in your coffee. Don’t buy DUG for its nutritional value. It would be much cheaper and more efficient to bake some potatoes.
Since DUG comes from Sweden, the labeling is different. The nutritional info is given per 100 milliliters, which is the awkward equivalent of about 3.4 ounces — not enough for cereal, too much for coffee unless you’re making a latte. In that 100 milliliters, the original flavor contains 39 calories, 1.8 grams of sugar, 1.3 grams of protein (from the added pea protein) and 15% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and folic acid. So this is much lower in protein than a good soy milk, but includes a decent amount of vitamins, especially if you use six to eight ounces in your cereal.
The rapeseed oil is a special boon for vegans, who “can have a hard time getting the vital fat omega-3, which is mostly found in fatty fish,” Tornberg said in a statement. “For them and others, the product can serve as an alternative to flaxseed and rapeseed oil or health supplements.”
So, will potato milk last on the crowded shelves of the world’s health food aisles? Or will it be 2022’s darling, only to give way to a new milk made from thistles or sawdust or old wallpaper paste the following year? We won’t know until DUG gets it on the shelves and the wide world of non-dairy consumers get a chance to taste the stuff.
Waitrose, a British supermarket company that researches food trends, has identified a new diet it calls “climatarianism.” Based on a poll of two thousand consumers, Waitrose concluded that 70% of shoppers surveyed considered their food’s carbon footprint either somewhat or very important. Some were adopting a 5:2 diet, meaning they ate vegetarian meals five days a week. People who make climatarian dietary choices will likely at least try the new potato milk.
Social media will also drive sales, especially among younger consumers. Waitrose found that about 75% of those surveyed looked to social media for food ideas during lockdown. One in 12 in every age group had sent a food picture to a friend or posted one on social media within a day of taking the poll. So potato milk prepare for your closeup. You might well be the banana bread, pesto egg or air fryer of 2022.
Lead image via Pexels