Dairy free yogurt, cheese and butter at NOPE

Natural & Organic Products Europe is one of those annual trade events many in the food, cosmetic and health business mark down as a must-attend event on their calendar. I regularly cover it, as there’s always a terrific selection of new and upcoming free from products – as I reported last year here.

This year, by far the most interesting food products to my mind were not gluten-free – but dairy-free and vegan. Some of them are already here, some of them are on their way, and some of them are looking for distribution. In any case, dairy substitute connoisseurs have a few treats in store, I’d say. Here is a selection of the best in show, in ABC order …

Abbott Kinney’s
Plant-based yoghurt alternatives I’d not come across before, but which are available in Planet Organic and some independents in London. Coco Start is made from coconut milk, and is available natural or with mango, while Almond Start is based on organic Sicilian almonds. Cofo Frost is frozen yoghurt made from Coco Start – available in natural, strawberry or cocoa. Tasted the Almond Start – and it was very good.

Chao
These vegan slices, whose name is derived from the Vietnamese for fermented tofu, are from The Original Field Roast Grain Meat Co in the US. They are coconut-based and seasoned with said ‘chao’. Available in Creamy Original, Tomato Cayenne (the colour of Red Leicester, but considerably spicier) and – my favourite – the Coconut Herb, with a more discernible coconut taste with oregano and black pepper. Only allergens appear to be sesame (as oil) and the obvious soy. Soon to be in the UK; more news on the details when I have them.

Cicioni
This was a delicious Italian vegan cheese, made with a blend of fermented cashews and almonds, that boasts a notable tang and soft but firm texture. No immediate prospect of UK availability, unfortunately. Shame about the OTT anti-milk / anti-sugar etc marketing too – describing milk and flour as ‘extremely dangerous’ is the sort of claim that discredits free from manufacturers, and I wish they wouldn’t indulge in it. That said, it did win the Best New Organic Food Product at the show’s Awards, and no doubt fully deserved it.

Green Vie
A Cypriot range of vegan products, including a number of dairy-free cheeses – which come in the form of slices, rounds, and enormous ‘blocks’ that are 2.5 kg. They are coconut-based and Vegan Society registered. Didn’t quite understand which were new, but you can browse here. In the UK, you can order larger quantities from Coffee and Cheese. I liked the look of one of the soft cheese products which were flavoured with truffle – an attempt to elevate vegan cheese into the realm of ‘fine food’ or just do something a little different? Either way – good to see.

Sojade Hemp
Perhaps this was common knowledge, but I had no idea a hemp-based yoghurt alternative existed – and yet here it is, from Sojade, hidden modestly among the other wide range of products from this vegan French manufacturer. Sadly, no opportunity to taste at the show, so can’t vouch for it personally.

Spalmolio
It was great to meet Free From Italy’s Nigel Singh, who is bringing to the UK this excellent butter-replacement by Probios, which launched at the show, and which is based solely on olive oil and cocoa butter, and therefore almost certainly suitable for absolutely everybody on a ‘free from’ diet of any description. He told us there’s lots of interest from wholesalers, so is optimistic regarding upcoming stockists. We’ll keep you posted. (In case you’re concerned about the product name, there’s definitely no palm oil here. Its derived from ‘spalmare’ (to spread) and ‘olio’ (oil).)

Wilmersburger
Only came across this brand on finding a sample wedge in my Vegan Society goodie bag, but they also make cheese-alternative spreads, cheese-filled pastas (non GF), shreds and slices. Products are soya / tofu or coconut based, and many contain wheat (though the slices are GF). Some of the wedges have a ‘may contain traces of celery’ warning.

Ya Rice
I can’t recall the company behind this, and Googling has proven unproductive. More when I uncover it, but I seem to remember it was a French brand. Anyway – tasty rice yoghurt products, is just about all I can say right now!

For more on the Natural Products Show, and to catch up with winners of their annual awards, exhibitor details, photographs of the event, click through to the site here

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