Milk alternative “Malk” is another new pecan product
August Vega started experimenting with alternative milks due to a dairy allergy she and her son share. She used almonds to create a healthy and flavorful alternative to milk. Along with her brother, Justin Brodnax, and their cousin, Joel Canada, she created the Malk brand to bring her creations to the public.
The name “Malk” comes from a combination of “milk” and “almonds,” and not from the Simpsons, which Canada said is a common belief.
The company began using pecans when they started selling products at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market in Houston. The market requires vendors to have an ingredient that is locally sourced, and the Malk founders experimented with pecans because of their abundance in Texas.
“We had no idea if it’d work or not,” said Canada. “It ended up being our best seller.”
The maple pecan milk is made with organic pecans, purified water, organic vanilla, organic maple syrup and Himalayan pink salt. They buy organic pecan pieces from a Texas supplier.
“[Pecans are] a heart healthy nut like almonds,” Canada said. “And they’re really good for brain health.”
In addition to customers with dairy allergies, the pecan milk appeals to vegans. Canada said the pecan milk is like a treat for them because of the sweetness of the nut and maple syrup.
“People really like it over the almond milk we regularly stock,” said Emily Jackson, a barista at Friends and Neighbors, a local coffee shop in Austin. “There are people who come here just to have Malk.”
Canada said he does not charge Friends and Neighbors for Malk because he likes having it in his neighborhood coffee shop, and customers who try it are likely to go buy it on their own.
Vega, Brodnax and Canada sold their first quart of Malk in June 2014, and they are now stocked in 15 Whole Foods stores in Austin and Houston. By summer, they plan to be in the entire Southwest region of Texas.
“It’s grown really quickly,” said Canada.
The company also relies on customer feedback. Canada said one customer asked for a lower sodium level, so they switched from sea salt to Himalayan salt. Even though Himalayan salt costs more in production, Canada said they gained a life-long customer.
Jackson said a blend of the pecan and almond milks works better in lattes than pecan milk alone, which is an example of feedback from the coffee shops as well.
Right now, Malk is working to keep up with the demand from customers and big box stores. However, Canada said, Chocolate Malk is on the horizon.
Malk has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for machinery and extending their production line. They plan to have a big party in Houston for their supporters.
Customers in the Houston and Austin areas can check their local Whole Foods for Malk. If Malk is not in your area, you can order online through Greenling.com and FarmHouseDelivery.com. Canada said to keep an eye on social media for new locations. Malk will be launching a new website soon at MalkOrganics.com.