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Edmund Chan, COO and co-founder of Meat The Next [Photo from Meat The Next]

Meat The Next’s dairy-free milk targets lactose-intolerant in Asia

Brands like The Matcha Tokyo and Pret A Manger in Hong Kong Science Park have adopted the startup’s product.

Believe it or not, 90 percent of the Asian population is lactose intolerant, and although alternatives like oat milk, soy milk, and plant-based milks exist, these options often have high sugar content or do not fully meet nutritional requirements.

To address this problem, Hong Kong-based startup, Meat The Next, developed the Tiger Nut Oat Milk, which is made from tiger nuts, odourless non-genetically modified (GMO) soybeans, and oats.

Edmund Chan, COO and co-founder of Meat The Next, said the plant-based milk key ingredient tiger nuts are highly nutritious, rich in dietary fibre and healthy fats including omega-3 and omega-9, and has essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron.

“Tiger nut offers several health benefits, including improving digestion, helping to improve cardiac health and regulate blood sugar levels,” added Chan.

Apart from being a healthier option, Meat The Next’s Tiger Nut Oat Soy Milk also helps combat desertification on a large scale and enhancement of biodiversity, said Chan.

“Tiger nuts are a valuable resource found in desert regions, and their cultivation promotes the restoration and conservation of these habitats. As we cultivate more tiger nuts, we gradually reduce the size of desert areas, allowing for the reestablishment of diverse ecosystems and the return of native flora and fauna,” Chan said.

“Just one litre of our tiger nut oat soy milk supports the cultivation of an area equivalent to that of an iphone in the desert, demonstrating how even small choices can have a significant impact on biodiversity,” he added.

China has the world’s largest desertification area, spanning 2.57 million square kilometres or 26.81% of its land. Globally, 20 million hectares of farmland cease cultivation resulting in US$42b losses.

“Livestock rearing contributes to one third of climate change, making desertification a pressing issue. We hope to use unique raw materials and food technology to fight for climate change and alleviate food shortage problems with diet change,” Chan said.

Advanced enzymatic technology

To create the Tiger Nut Oat Milk, Meat The Next uses its patented advanced enzymatic technology which breaks down tiger nut shells whilst preserving its nutrients, boosting protein content, and maximising mineral and antioxidant levels.

The technology “replaces traditional grinding and pounding methods in the development of tiger nut oat milk,” said Chan.

Chan said their technology also contributes to refining smoother and creamier textures, which is recommended by various nutritionists and barista

“We extract 100% natural sweetness from plants, eliminating the need for added sugar and contributing to healthier diets. By combining three plant sources in our Tiger Nut Oat Soy Milk, we have achieved a golden nutritional ratio. It blends perfectly with coffee and other beverages, addressing the pain points of existing plant-based milk options,” Chan added.

A testament to Tiger Nut Oat Soy Milk’s compatibility with various beverages is its recognition by renowned brands like The Matcha Tokyo and Pret A Manger in Hong Kong Science Park, which have adopted the product in their application.

Chan hopes to fund more strategic partnerships to further extend the startup’s social impact.

At present, the startup is looking to raise US$2m-US$5m funding in a Pre-A round to scale up its business, research and development project, and to expand to overseas markets including Korea, Japan, China and even the United Arab Emirates.

In the next five years, Chan plans to provide “more delicious and nutritionally balanced delights, such as functional beverages, dairy-free cheese, and yoghurt, to meet the market’s needs.”

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