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Is this Scotland’s first small batch refill nut milk business?

Joanna Macdonald with her nut milks.

As more people begin to think environmentally and sustainably when it comes to the food and drink they put in their bodies, the trend for plant-based alternatives continues to rise.

Now, around one in three people in the UK drink plant-based milks with research from Mintel suggesting 32% of those polled drank plant-based milk.

And in this report it also outlined that nearly a quarter (23%) of adults believe that plant-based milk is better for them than cow’s milk.

With more people now turning to plant-based milks, one woman is on a mission to bring those in the north-east their very own local version.

Claiming to be Scotland’s first refill almond milk, and the UK’s first refill peanut milk, Joanna Macdonald of MacMylk wanted to offer a variety of nut milks that tasted good and were better for the environment.

Joanna Macdonald has launched her own nut milk business.

Where the idea began

Launching them in August/September 2021, Joanna’s products undertook extensive lab testing and are also served up in refillable and recyclable glass bottles instead of Tetra Paks.

Having started drinking soya milk in 2003 and focusing more on a plant-based diet over the past five years, the milk has taken months to perfect and the mum-of-two makes every batch at her home in the Aberdeen area.

“I’ve had a long journey of changing my own lifestyle over the past five years,” she said.

A large bottle with smaller bottles of the nut milks.

“I went from eating a traditional diet to a vegetarian diet and have gradually moved towards a vegan diet. Initially this was for health reasons and trying to resolve a variety of digestive issues I had.

“I gradually learned about the negative impact of animal products on the environment and became really passionate about living more sustainably.

“As the coronavirus pandemic hit I started to look more closely at our waste and realised that a lot of that was Tetra Pak cartons and plant milk.

“I decided to try making my own to reduce waste and I couldn’t find a nut milk I liked in the shops so I played around with recipes until I found a few I was really happy with.”

Small batch refill nut milks

Producing small batches of the artisan nut milks, Joanna makes around two litres at a time and around 10 to 15 litres every week.

And it isn’t a quick task with numerous processes involved.

“I couldn’t say exactly how long it takes to make but there’s a fair amount of prep involved to sterilise bottles, clean my kitchen and get my nut milk machines ready,” she said.

One of the big litre bottles.

“I roast my nuts and combine them with water, dates and sea salt. The processor does the hard grinding bit and then I’m ready to deliver.

“The bottles are reusable, returnable glass bottles so they also need cleaning and sterilised before filling again as they all come back to me to refill.”

Quality is also of importance when it comes to creating peanut and almond milk, therefore Joanna uses 100% organic ingredients to make the products.

She added: “I prepare the milks with 13% nuts. Most supermarket nut milks contain 1-3% nuts at the most.

“I use dates for sweetener so there’s no syrups or gums in it. I also add a pinch of Scottish sea salt.

“I source my almonds from Europe, mainly Spain or Italy, as opposed to California where there is a lot of issues with almond farming. I have been speaking with people in the Fairtrade nut industry to find out more and understand whether Fairtrade nuts could be an option for my nut milks as my business grows.”

How to get your hands on it

Available to purchase by pre-ordering via Refillosophy in Aberdeen or messaging Joanna on social media directly, customers can collect or get the milk delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays.

One litre of almond milk is priced at £6 and £5 for peanut milk. There is also a monthly subscription option for those purchasing the milk regularly, too.

And it’s not just milk Joanna has her heart set on, she’s also currently working with Scotland’s Rural University College on a vegan creamer which she hopes to launch in the future. It is currently in the trial stages.

For those interested in making their own nut milks, the entrepreneur hosts nut and oat milk making workshops throughout the year which gives individuals a basic understanding of how to make their own zero-waste oat milk and oat pulp cookies.

The workshop is priced at £20 per head.

For more information on the workshops visit her website

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