Meet the Founders: Barley Milk by Plant & Food Research

There’s no doubt about it, plant milks are here to stay on our supermarket shelves. But which option is best? Well move over oats and almonds and say hello to Barley Milk. There’s a new player in town - and it’s a healthier alternative that generates zero waste.

Meet Irene Ho and Carl Massarotto, two of the founding team members developing Barley Milk at Plant & Food Research. They are one of the teams taking part in the Sprout 2023 Accelerator in the Cohort XI intake.

MTF-Barley Milk

Barley Milk uses a new barley cultivar developed at Plant & Food Research, which has high amounts of beta-glucan (known to be good for lowering cholesterol), more protein and good agronomic performance. Utilising the team’s depth of expertise in product formulation, process development and techno-economic analysis, these food science heavyweights have come up with a novel way to generate the new plant milk.

The secret to generating the nutrient-dense milk comes from using the entire barley wholegrain in the processing method - resulting in better product yields, reduced cost of production and zero waste.

“Plant-based milks manufactured by the conventional process, use filtration or centrifugation steps that remove gritty particles into a fibre-rich side stream. We have developed a process technology to eliminate that side stream” said Irene.

When it comes to a consumer product, taste is often king, and the team have made sure that the drink produced at the end of the process is palatable and functional - a welcome addition to your bowl of cereal or morning flat white.

“The key thing that consumers want and we’ve managed to achieve is a plant milk that tastes good, with mild sweetness, delicate flavour, and a good mouthfeel” said Irene.

When looking into the commercial side of the Barley Milk, the team were surprised just how much the plant milk market is still growing - long after we first saw these products hitting our supermarket shelves, year-on-year figures show consumers are not slowing down in making the switch to an alternative milk product.

The team are hoping that their journey with Sprout will enable them to nail down a value proposition for the product, develop a commercialisation strategy and increase their exposure to potential partners and investors.

When asked where she gets her inspiration from, Irene highlighted the influence that her colleagues and the research work they do at Plant & Food Research have had on the success of the project so far. “That’s really encouraged me to do my work and do it to the highest standard.”