- Lavva is launching plant-based milks and a creamer made from pili nuts in Whole Foods nationwide this month, according to a release.
- The full line of alternative dairy products will include Unsweetened Plant Milk, Chocolate Plant Milk and Unsweetened Plant Creamer. They are made with organic coconut water, filtered water and pili nuts. There are no added sugars (the chocolate is sweetened by dates), sweeteners, gums, stabilizers or emulsifies. Each 8-ounce serving contains 3 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat, Food Navigator reported.
- Lavva, which is known for its pili nut yogurts, said the commodity is a zero-waste crop and is sourced from a sustainable supply chain that contributes to regenerative agriculture.
Those who haven’t run across pili nuts yet are not alone. The buttery, fatty nut is native to northern Australia. It is also grown in the Philippines, the volcanic soil of the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia and it is a newer addition to the American market. Lavva, which focuses exclusively on this tropical nut, has raised $16 million in funding since it was founded in 2017, according to Food Navigator.
Not only are pili nuts relatively uncommon in the United States compared to other options like walnuts, almonds and cashews, but they were nearly unheard of in the plant-based dairy category until Lavva came onto the scene in 2018. Since its launch into retail, the brand has gained shelf space in more than 2,000 stores and has moved from natural food channels to more mainstream retailers, including Target, Kroger and Sprouts.
During that time, the brand also has expanded into the dessert space with its indulgent Molten Lavva yogurt line and now milk. Food Navigator reported there was a trademark filing at the beginning of the year which indicates a possible move into additional categories.
The pulp of the pili nuts is traditionally used as a vegetable and its kernel is popular in many recipes in the Philippines. The reason for the crop's growing popularity is it hits on a number of popular trends. It can be raised with minimal fertilizers, according to Trade Winds Bicol.
The nutritional profile of the pili nut also is generating buzz. According to Lavva, pili nuts are "the lowest carb in nature" and they are packed with the highest concentration of vitamin E and magnesium of any nut. Science backs this up. A serving of pili nuts covers the recommended daily dose of manganese and copper, is rich in antioxidants, fat, amino acids and Omega 3’s, and is associated with fighting inflammation.
However, it is that high percentage of fat that gives Lavva products the creamy taste that is reminiscent of dairy and enables the brand to debut a plant-based milk with no added sugar. Unlike fat, sugar has become public enemy No. 1 in recent years with 52% of consumers looking for total sugar content in products, according to data from Mintel.
Lavva says it achieves a no sugar added composition while offering indulgent taste. A Comax Flavors survey from 2017 found when it comes to plant-based dairy alternatives, consumers buy them for flavor most of all (48%) followed by perceived health benefits (36%). The new milks from Lavva appear to deliver on both accounts, which makes it a popular offering among consumers looking for healthy flavor in the growing plant-based dairy space.
One drawback that could hinder the the pili nut is price. The Comax Flavors survey showed 37% of consumers factor price into their shopping equation, a factor that only has intensified as employment remains high during the pandemic.
This may not bode well for Lavva, which Food Navigator reported is up to 20% more expensive than bigger competitor brands, in the plant-based space. With plant-based milks also made from oats, almonds, soybeans, coconuts and cashews, among others, the space remains very competitive. As a result, the pili nut may need to move quickly to tout its health benefits among consumers who may be unfamiliar with the product before they get scared off by the price.