The evolution of product-market fit in India’s mylk space

This is just the veganning

Abhay Rangan
Aug 8 · 3 min read
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

India’s plant-based dairy space is still early. This isn’t so much a comment on market size as it is a comment on how ‘current’ the products are with global trends. Products are an indicator of how far the space has come along.

Consider the evolution of popular mylks -

The earliest ones were soy and coconut milk (centuries of history). Then came rice, almond (overtook soy milk sales in the USA in 2013), and other nut milks. Shortly after, oat and flax milks started taking off. You could then milk quinoa, sunflower, sesame and go as far as banana. Note that the claim to fame for these mylks were their base ingredients (hero ingredients).

Many of them didn’t function quite like milk, but that was okay. You had unique tastes and flavours, but the barrier for consumer entry was relatively high.

With time, the focus for mylks has shifted from hero ingredients to functionality. We now know it’s possible to get a milk-like mylk, and the barrier for consumer entry has become low.

Today, hero ingredients don’t matter as much as they used to; it’s *what* they accomplish for you. You can just mix and match grains, nuts, seeds, millets, fruit(?), based on what properties you need.

Some questions to ask during R&D— Does it work in lattes? Can it lighten up tea adequately? Can it maintain integrity in acidic environments like coffee and not curdle? Can you make popular recipes with it?

One of the biggest reasons for the meteoric rise of oat milk (an interesting combination of hero ingredients and function) has been that it works great in coffee.

A delightful use case we’ve seen is consumers boiling over milk in housewarming ceremonies in India. They expect Goodmylk to boil over, too (it does).

We started out with hero ingredients (almond, coconut, soy) and then shifted our focus from ingredients to function.

This isn’t to say ingredients have stopped being part of the conversation. Consumers now care about cleaner labels, a minimum number of ingredients — but they don’t necessarily care about what the hero ingredient is.

Lately, cellular agriculture has made news (Perfect Day, New Culture), and I’m beyond excited — it’s milk, but without the cow. This is entirely a function play.

Ideally, your sweet spot is-

  1. Works like dairy in applications
  2. Affordable
  3. Easily accessible
  4. Minimum number of ingredients
  5. Clean label

You don’t *have* to choose function always. Novelty mylks will always be around.

You can end up with a combination of ingredients that are designed to work like milk (cc: Goodmylk), or you could just end up with this-

A purple coloured Walnut milk!

Maybe there’s a market for mylks of interesting colours (imagine subscriptions with golden, purple, green, black mylks delivered to you) with different functions and uses. Or different hero ingredients fortified with one ‘hero’ nutrient each. Almond with Vitamin B12, Cashew with Vitamin D, soy with calcium, delivered to you once every day. Or Soylent marries Silk.

For now, we’re betting that the largest pie will belong to mylks that work like their animal counterparts.

Abhay Rangan

Written by

Founder at | Making plant based food affordable and accessible in India | Forbes 30 under 30 2019 | Carnatic Musician

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