“I dreamt about making this product two years ago," said June Castro, who co-founded Benni Alimentos in 2014 with her husband, Sandro Castro, the company’s CEO.
"We love to make products that substitute ordinary products people use day to day. This cashew nut milk powder is soluble and has a shelf life
of 24 months so it’s very practical."
Based in Ibiporã, Paraná state, Benni Alimentos worked with a B2B supplier, Campo Grande, to source a soluble form of ground cashew nuts.
Castro said she got the idea for the product because she was tired of throwing away non-dairy nut milks that had gone off.
“Normally, cashew nut milk [goes off] in three days. They are expensive but if you don’t drink it quickly, you have to throw it away. So I decided to make a milk that has a longer shelf-life and had this idea for the powdered milk,” she told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
Castro said nut milks were becoming increasingly popular in Brazil, and cashew nuts had a “much better” reputation than soy for plant-based products due to worries over transgenic and GMOs, she said.
Brazil was the ninth biggest producer of cashew nuts in the world in 2017, according to the most recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAOSTAT), producing over 133,000 tonnes of in-shell cashew nuts.
Available in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, the milk alternative powders are sweetened with xylitol and contain artificial flavors.
The vanilla powder has a very neutral, relatively unsweet flavor profile that resembles dairy milk while the chocolate beverage is “for everyone’s inner child,” Castro said.
Consumers add cold or hot water to prepare the beverage, which can be drunk on its own or used in other recipes. The company plans to launch strawberry and cappuccino.
Benni Alimentos' existing product portfolio contains a range of ghee (lactose-free, clarified butter) and nut butters.
The SME already has retail listings for other products in its portfolio. Its range of ghee, for instance, is sold in 27 states in Brazil including large supermarkets, such as Walmart-owned Lider and it is currently in talks with Casino Group’s Pão de Açúcar.
The cashew nut powders, however, were launched at BioBrazil last week, and the company is actively looking for buyers. “I think naturally the milk will also enter these big [chains].”