Gone are the days where the only available alternative to dairy milk was soy or goat’s milk. Nowadays, you won’t be looked at twice if you walk into a cafe and request an oat, almond, or coconut milk latte (or a blend of all three if you’re feeling particularly annoying), and your options are on the rise.
The move towards alternative or plant-based milk has been driven by consumer’s health, dietary, ethical, and environmental concerns (alongside taste preference – I’ve always been an almond milk girl myself). The eco-friendliness of each alternative varies from plant to plant, with almonds requiring significantly more water for production than oat milk but producing less emissions for example. However, all are considered greener than dairy milk due to the volume of water and land needed to produce dairy products and the emissions that this process results in.
In a world of more climate conscious consumers and a plethora of alternative options at their fingertips, it seems that the popularity of alternative milk will continue to rise, and new players will take the opportunity to disrupt the market. Enter DUG.
DUG is a new potato-based beverage designed to be used as an alternative to dairy milk and was recently awarded Gold for ‘Best Vegan Milk’ in the ‘Vegan Food & Living Product’ awards in 2023. It also holds the position for being the most sustainable alternative on the market at present due to the low maintenance nature of potato as a crop – which comes as no surprise to the Irish population – making them more efficient to grow in terms of land and water use than their grain and nut based competitors. By using potato flakes in the production of DUG products, the company also saves on transport emissions. DUG production sites, based in the UK, have their own set of standards to ensure lack of cross-contamination, recycling of by-products and streamlined production machinery for energy saving and efficiency.
Veg Of Lund, the parent company of DUG, has an impressive vision to “become one of the world’s most sustainable food production companies”, undertaking a mission “to go beyond a ‘low climate footprint’ and to become carbon neutral as soon as possible”. As part of this mission, the company has teamed up with Treeapp – a global tree planting organisation that helps both businesses and individuals alike to offset their carbon emissions through tree planting. The collaboration will aid DUG in implementing some long-term carbon offsetting strategies and saw the UK DUG team getting their hands dirty by personally planting trees with Treeapp.
The idea for DUG was born out of Professor Eva Tornberg’s research into the starch industry at the world-renowned University of Lund, Sweden, in which she discovered that the biological value of potato protein – which indicates how well the protein is absorbed – is significantly higher than that of soy, oat or almond proteins. This discovery made potatoes an attractive dairy substitute from a health perspective due to their being a great source of vitamins and minerals, and being free from the most common allergens, making DUG products ideal for those with allergies or intolerances.
DUG’s current portfolio includes three different variants of DUG potato milk – Original, with a climate footprint of 0.27 kg CO2e/kg; Barista, with a climate footprint of 0.31 kg CO2e/kg; and Unsweetened, with a climate footprint of 0.31 kg CO2e/kg. The company is still in its infancy, having just launched in 2021, and is developing and refining their products. In January 2023 DUG released its new, cleaner recipe, delivering a plant based milk that is now low in sugar, has a reduced salt content, and a smoother, more milk-like consistency. There are a range of potential products on the horizon for DUG, including a smoothie range that is already available in Sweden, and meat and ice cream alternatives that are in development – all which will be based on DUG’s patented potato-powered emulsion.
Like any alternative milk, DUG has its own unique flavour that could become your new favourite – whether you take it in your coffee, tea, or cereal. Call me nuts, but I think it may be time to call it quits with almond milk.
DUG products are available online or in your local supermarkets across Ireland and the UK.