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Subscribe Plant-based foods and beverages Ripple Foods raises $64m in series C round taking total investment to $110m By Elaine Watson
contact 03-Feb-2018
– Last updated on
03-Feb-2018 at 02:08 GMT Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after raising $64m in a Series C funding round led by Euclidean Capital,** Neil Renninger PhD, said: “I agree ​[with the dairy industry] that alternatives should be good alternatives and right now, some of them​ [plant-based rivals] are terrible alternatives to dairy, but we can make products that are actually superior to dairy from a nutrition standpoint.”​ With the nutritional merits of plant-based dairy alternatives in the spotlight this week following the release of a study from McGill University in Canada​​ noting that rice and coconut milk in particular “cannot act as an ideal alternative for cow’s milk,” ​Dr Renninger claimed that Ripple blew both dairy milk and plant-based alternatives out of the water in the taste, nutrition and sustainability stakes.

Ripple Foods​​ utilizes novel technology that strips out unwanted components (color/flavor) from commercially available plant protein isolates to yield a neutral-tasting protein that can be incorporated into foods and beverages in high quantities, and had designed its ‘milk’ not simply to match, but to outperform dairy products, argued Dr Renninger. By overcoming the sensory barriers (“most plant proteins taste awful​​,” he observed), Ripple has been able to dial up the protein (8g per 8oz) and dial down the sugar (6g per 8oz) to create a soy-, dairy-, and nut-free beverage with 20% fewer calories, a sixth of the saturated fat and half the sugar of 2% dairy milk, and eight times the protein of almond milk, he said.

Each serving of Ripple – which is now sold in 10,000+ stores in the US and Canada 18 months after launch – also contains 32mg of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (from microalgae), 45% of the DV for calcium, 30% of the DV for vitamin D, 10% of the DV for vitamin A and 13% of the DV for iron. “Show me a dairy product that has the fat profile that we have…” ​added Dr Renninger. “We are able to take all of the good from dairy without the bad … We’re designing products with just as much protein, more calcium and vitamin D, less sugar, less saturated fat and fewer calories, and a far lower carbon footprint.”​ He was also quick to dismiss those pitching dairy milk’s ‘simplicity’ and ‘inherent nutrition’ against the lengthier ingredients list and ‘heavily processed’ nature of plant-based rivals, adding that “From a nutrition standpoint as long as the nutrients are bioavailable, that’s what important.”​ From a processing perspective, meanwhile, you could argue that “the way milk is produced and cows are treated on an industrial scale is far more scary and upsetting than what we are doing​,” he claimed.

Asked about protein quality (dairy industry experts note that pea protein lacks high levels of all the essential amino acids), ​Dr Renninger said this issue had been overplayed. “If you eat a well rounded diet, you’re getting all the amino acids you need, no one should subsist just on Ripple… or anything else.”  ​ Launched in April 2016, Ripple is now in 10,000+ stores in the US and Canada including Kroger, Whole Foods and Target, and spans refrigerated 48oz beverages, shelf-stable 8 oz kids’ packs, half & half, and a non-dairy Greek yogurt with 12g protein per serving.

New products in the pipeline include vegan ice creams. The ingredients in the original (sweetened) version include water, pea protein, sunflower oil, organic cane sugar, algal oil (for the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA), vitamins A and D, calcium phosphate, potassium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, natural flavors, sea salt, organic guar gum, and gellan gum. The ‘milk’ is made by blending the purified pea protein isolate with water, sunflower oil, and cane sugar, while the vitamins and DHA are added following homogenization and sterilization.  Find out what Califia Farms CEO Greg Steltenpohl thinks at our FREE-to-attend beverage innovation summit​​ on February 21. Read more from foodnavigator-usa.com…

thumbnail courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com