The Real Reason This Vegan Milk Company Was Sued By Dairy Farmers

NotMilk — a product designed by the Chile-based company NotCo to be a non-dairy alternative to milk — pictures a cow on its carton with a large black line crossing it out. After all, as it is not milk, there is no cow involved. However, the Chilean milk farmers union has sued them, accusing NotCo of vilifying milk sourced from cows with their package's design.

"These things always happen," Matias Muchnick, the company's chief executive, told SFGate. While one might consider the creation of NotMilk an implicit argument against dairy milk, the company has made no disparaging remarks about udders. Rather, Muchnick sees this as a settled industry panicking over the prospect of losing their market share. 

Nor has such pushback in Chile stopped NotCo from finding a foothold in the United States, specifically Whole Foods. Covering their debut in November 2020, Business Insider noted that the product was also already finding commercial use in Burger King U.K.'s Rebel Whopper and Papa John's vegan pizzas in Chile.

NotMilk used algorithms and artificial intelligence to create their milk

The trick NotMilk wants to bring to the oat milks, soy milks, and almond milks that are all vying for alternative milk supremacy is to manufacture a milk alternative that consumers who are not vegetarian or vegan find convincing enough to pass off as milk. LabNews notes that plant milks occupy the most developed part of the plant-based economy, but if NotMilk can render the compromise other plant-based milks require of giving up the taste and texture of milk for an environmentally friendly liquid obsolete, they could become the dominant market player.

To do this, NotCo bundled a series of algorithms into an artificial intelligence they call Giuseppe. Talking to Food Navigator after patenting the technology, Matias Muchnick said, "We are trying to understand in a very profound way what animal products are; not just the molecular information, the composition of the protein, but every dimension of the product, the spectral information, the physiochemical composition, the sensory information." Essentially, they pump all possible combinations through Giuseppe for it to find plant ingredients that, in conjunction with each other, could make milk.

Mic reports that ingredients within NotMilk include pineapples, cabbages, and pea proteins at their core. How successful it will be will be seen. However, Vegconomist reported on June 4 that NotCo has received an investment from a firm at which Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack, is a partner. So, those with something to gain expect good returns.