We’ve heard of almond, cashew and even macadamia nut milks, but a new nut has entered the plant-based dairy market: pecans. While some plant-based consumers have been making homemade pecan milk for years, a few startups are hoping to make it a popular entrant to the alternative dairy space.
So, why pecans? While nearly any nut can be transformed into an alternative dairy beverage, pecans are less labor intensive and waste free. Unlike almond milk, which must be strained and leaves behind gritty almond pulp, pecan milk doesn’t require any straining. The soft shell nuts blend into a creamy, nutty drink, making it a zero-waste beverage that contains all the nutrients and fiber found in a handful of pecans.
One of the most recent companies to enter the pecan milk market is Livestock, a Texas-based brand that launched shelf-stable Original and Chocolate pecan milk called THIS PKN at the beginning of October. The founder of the company, Laura Shenkar, learned that pecan trees can survive droughts and grow with regenerative farming practices. Working with local farmers that tended pecan orchards, she realized the potential of pecans for a plant-based beverage.
The company values taste, locality and sustainability. Made with filtered water, pecan butter and calcium carbonate, among other ingredients and extracts, the company describes its pecan milk as, “rich and satisfying right out the carton or in coffee, cereal or smoothies.
Pecan Milk Co-op
Georgia-based Pecan Milk Co-op, another new entrant to the space, recently launched with Original and Sweetened Pecan Milk, joining its Oat Milk, Hemp Milk and Sunflower Milk. In 2013, Nijil Jones, the company’s co-founder and finance officer, began making and selling homemade almond milk. Eventually, Jones realized that pecans were a predominant Georgia resource and they began experimenting with pecans. From there, the company was born.
Containing only local pecans, purified water and sea salt, the company’s Original flavor includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein and a slew of vitamins and minerals. The Co-op also provides worker-owner opportunities for its diverse employees, specifically highlighting LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, women and people with disabilities.
“With us being Black-owned, and it being the South, we do have to think about chattel slavery,” Jones said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We’re still really, really needing to build institutions that have dignified workplaces for us.”
While the other companies in the space are newer brands, Texas-based MALK Organics has been selling pecan milk since 2014. As the first company to launch pecan milk commercially, MALK Organics produces low-sugar, minimal-ingredient nut-based beverages made from sprouted and cold-pressed pecans, among other nuts.
The brand’s prominent pecan milk, Maple Pecan Malk, features organic pecans, maple syrup and vanilla, as well as Himalayan salt and filtered water for a “cross between sweet refresher and guilty pleasure,” the company’s website states. MALK Organics’ products have been available in Kroger stores, Whole Foods Markets and other specialty grocers since 2016.
Pecan Milk Production
While pecan milk has not yet experienced a breakthrough in the plant-based dairy market, there are several advantages it has over almond milk. While almond production requires a vast amount of water, pecan production requires less water, labor and fewer resources. Because they are grown domestically, pecans also don’t incur the shipping miles that other nuts rack up.
With consumer behavior shifting largely toward sustainability, especially when it comes to plant-based foods and beverages, it’s likely that pecan milk will find success in the crowded alternative dairy market.