When we first reported on Sweden’s DUG Potato Milk in 2021, we were intrigued: a first-to-market plant milk that uses half the land of oat milk and an incredible 56 times less water than almond milk – what not to do Love?!
While milk from potatoes may sound unusual to say the least, after sampling it at PBWE 2021 in London, we were convinced. And so were the consumers; DUG’s sales increased by 49.9% to £146.8 million that year following a retail launch in Ocado and 280 Waitrose stores.
“The intrigue and interest shown in DUG – as the first and only global potato milk, was phenomenal”
Following last month’s improved recipe for DUG milk and the recently granted patent for its ownership Potato emulsion, it’s time to catch up with our brand to find out more. We discuss all things Potato Milk with CEO Frederick Carling, who reveals exciting news about future plans.
What is the story behind DUG®?
It all started when Eva Tornberg, professor of food technology at Sweden’s world-renowned university, was completing an assignment for the starch industry. During his research, he discovered the unique properties and intriguing benefits of potato protein. In particular, he realized that potato protein has an excellent amino acid profile, which is exceptional for a vegetable protein source.
Plus, potato protein doesn’t contain any of the top 14 common allergens, making it well-tolerated and versatile. Not to mention the potato’s sustainability credentials, which Eva identified very early on. After making these discoveries, he made it his mission to develop a range of potato-powered plant-based food products that would benefit not only plant-based and vegetarian consumers, but also environmentally conscious individuals and those with allergies or intolerances.
He founded Vage of Lund in 2016 – the parent company of DUG Drinks – which launched DUG® in Sweden and the UK in 2021. Lund’s Veg is now listed on the Swedish stock market as a Swedish food technology company, rooted in science and research at the prestigious Lund University.
Give us an insight into the decision process behind your main ingredient – why did you choose potatoes to make the milk?
Through scientific food research at Lund University, Eva Tornberg, Professor of Veg of Lund, was surprised to discover that potato protein provides an amino acid profile with a biological value of 90-100, equivalent to eggs, which are widely considered to be one of the most nutritious. Complete source of protein. The biological value of potato protein – which indicates how well the protein is absorbed – is also significantly higher than that of soy, oat or nut proteins.
“…potato protein offers an amino acid profile similar to that of eggs”
This is extremely unique for a vegetable, which is why Professor Tornberg saw the potential to use the potato as the basis for many vegan and plant-based options. He went on to develop a unique, patented method for producing a heat-stable, vegan emulsion made from potato and rapeseed oil, which forms the basis of all Veg of Lund innovations, including DUG plant-based dairy alternatives.
In addition, the potato has the advantage of offering a very delicate neutral taste, is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and benefits from being free of the most common allergens, making it ideal for allergies or intolerances. What more could we ask for from a humble tuber?
What goes into the production of potato milk and how would you describe its taste?
DUG potato m!lk is made using our patented potato and rapeseed oil emulsion. An emulsion is defined as a stable dispersion of two or more continuous liquids (which are kept in suspension by emulsifiers). We conserve water by using dry potatoes, i.e. ‘potato flakes’, which means no water is transported. We use potatoes whole to reduce waste.
“We conserve water by using dry potatoes, which means no water is transported.”
DUG has a smooth, creamy, yet neutral taste that makes it a perfect addition to any hot drink, cereal, savory dish or dessert as a plant-based milk alternative. It is extremely versatile in cooking and baking, which is why DUG is chosen by many top food manufacturers as a dairy alternative ingredient for their plant-based, allergen-friendly sauces and prepared foods.
Tell us about your current product portfolio and the purpose behind your new recipe.
After listening to consumer feedback and digging deep into what consumers need or desire from plant-based milks, we developed a new, improved recipe for DUG potato m!lk. Our new recipe now has less sugar, less salt and a milky smoothness. We also removed unnecessary ingredients such as maltodextrin, resulting in a ‘cleaner’ label and flavor profile.
Our portfolio includes three different variants of DUG® potato m!lk – Original, Barista and Unsweetened – each optimized with a new and improved recipe.
What makes potato milk different from other plant-based milks?
Award-winning, delicious, nutritious, sustainable, and allergen-friendly – need we say more? 😊
Durable: Potatoes don’t require much to grow, which is why DUG’s climate footprint is at least two-thirds lower than cow’s milk. Growing potatoes is also twice as land efficient as growing oats and uses 98% less water than growing almonds. That’s why DUG is definitely one of, if not the most, sustainable plant-based milk available.
Allergen-friendly: DUG® is naturally free of common allergens such as soy, nuts and gluten – which form the basis of most dairy alternatives on the market today – making it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers and intolerances.
Nutritional: It is low in saturated fat and rich in calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and folic acid. In fact, it’s the only plant-based dairy option that’s fortified with folic acid, an important nutrient considering the biggest consumers of plant-based milk are women ages 16-34.
Taste: Its smooth, creamy and neutral flavor profile enables it to perform well not only in hot drinks but also in a range of plant-based recipes. Our patented emulsion technology means it won’t split when heated and its creamy but neutral taste means it can be used like dairy milk in both cooking and baking.
Last year, you entered the retail market for the first time – who are DUG®’s current retail partners and how would you summarize the 2022 business year?
In the UK, DUG is available at Waitrose & Partners, Ocado, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods Market, Amazon and online vegan supermarkets. In addition, we have extensive coverage of the independent retail sector (especially health food stores) with a range of UK stockists.
Backed by a strong floor of organic press activity in early 2022, DUG has gone from strength to strength with the launch of Waitrose and Ocado, followed by expansion into Holland & Barrett and Whole Foods Market.
As the first and only global potato milk – the intrigue and interest shown in DUG by the media, trade and consumers is remarkable.s Throughout 2022, we have had the privilege of winning four product awards, growing the UK team, launching a line extension in Sweden – DUG Smoothies – and announcing more NPD projects in the market. 2022 has been a busy, exciting, challenging and character-building year, which we are all very proud to have been a part of, as we look forward to an even bigger, bolder and better 2023.
What are you planning for 2023 – do you have any new products in the pipeline or markets you plan to enter?
As we did for 2022, we begin the journey for 2023. Earlier this month we announced the launch of DUG in 496 stores of leading premium Swiss supermarket chain Migros. And we expect this to be one of several international launches this year, so watch this space…
We are also working on new product development projects in the meat substitute segment and ice cream segment, both of which will be based on our patented potato-based emulsion.
Where do you see your place in the plant-based milk market in 5 years?
Londre Veg is, with DUG, Creating a whole new subcategory of plant-based milks. Established crops such as oats, soy and rice will be challenged by potatoes due to their superior quality in several aspects (eg allergens, taste, durability).
“We are working on new product development projects in the meat substitute category and ice cream category”
Veg of Lund will lead the category in continuous product development and research while other brands follow suit and help build the subcategory to become a leader in the future.