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The first fair trade vegan milk made with delicious native quinoa to empower farmers and protect biodiversity. Organic and gluten free.
The first fair trade vegan milk made with delicious native quinoa to empower farmers and protect biodiversity. Organic and gluten free.
173 backers pledged $17,280 to help bring this project to life.

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Quinoa Milk: Sustainable nondairy milk for the future project video thumbnail
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$17,280

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Witulla, a rare and endangered native quinoa variety.
Witulla, a rare and endangered native quinoa variety.

Healthy, Delicious and Good for the Planet

Pachakuti Foods is launching the first quinoa milk made with carefully selected native quinoa varieties that have a naturally milky flavor and texture. Made from some of the yummiest quinoa in Peru, our quinoa milk is richer and creamier than quinoa milk made from conventional quinoa that is currently on the market. It is 100% vegan, gluten-free, and contains high quality proteins with all the essential amino acids that the body needs. 

Plus, native quinoa is more sustainable. It thrives over 13,000 feet above sea level with only 100 - 200 mm of rainwater- no need to pump away the world’s scarce water resources. Native quinoa’s ability to adapt to local climates and soils in the Andes means that it doesn’t require conventional fertilizers. With over 3,000 varieties of quinoa adapted to countless local environments and extreme climate conditions, native quinoa can help present and future generations adapt to climate change.

Unfortunately, because of quinoa globalization farmers are planting just a few commercial varieties while native quinoa disappears. Since native varieties have little to no commercial value, more and more farmers choose to plant genetically uniform export quinoa in order to provide an income for their families. Our quinoa milk will create a market for rare native quinoa so that farmers are incentivized to keep planting it. This has the potential to protect the world’s genetic resources while creating a great nondairy milk option that health and socially conscious consumers will love.

Communal quinoa farms known as Aynokas on the shores of Lake Titicaca
Communal quinoa farms known as Aynokas on the shores of Lake Titicaca

Our Goal

We want to launch native quinoa milk in the U.S. without a drop of preservatives while keeping all those amazing proteins as fresh as can be- but first we need lab tests, a great packaging design, and nutrition studies. Once we have FDA certification for our recipe formula and labels, we can pitch this product to clients and investors, opening markets for a tasty new nondairy milk that is healthy and sustainable.

A conservationist farmer explains colorful native quinoa varieties.
A conservationist farmer explains colorful native quinoa varieties.
Quinoa milk samples in 4 different flavors (from left to right): Chocolate, honey, maca/carob, plain
Quinoa milk samples in 4 different flavors (from left to right): Chocolate, honey, maca/carob, plain

Fair Trade for Struggling Andean Farmers

Last year the farmer price of organic quinoa in Peru crashed, falling from a high of $1.80 to about $0.40 - $0.45 per pound. As the quinoa supply increases, middlemen are taking advantage of the market by pushing prices as low as possible. Meanwhile, farmers are often forced to find other meager sources of income to support their families, such as backbreaking labor in illegal gold mines. 

We believe that farmers deserve better. Cutting intermediaries can increase the income that farmers receive for their quinoa. We work closely with farmers to negotiate a fair price and purchase the quinoa directly. This way, consumers can know exactly where their money is going, and impoverished farming families can earn more income for a better future. 

Our Model 

To tap into the huge potential of native quinoa, we select quinoa based on great flavor quality for making value added products, rather than buying quinoa based on uniform appearance the way quinoa wholesalers do. The quinoa that reaches the United States is selected to look good on a supermarket shelf, with the largest possible grain size and little to no color variation. However, this doesn't mean that commercial quinoa is healthier or tastier. In fact, commercial quinoa is often grown on overexploited soils using farming practices that are unsustainable.  

Our quinoa milk is different because consumers will only see (and taste!) the final product, which means the quinoa’s original appearance doesn’t matter. We test rare local quinoa varieties to make sure we are buying grains that are all natural and have great flavor quality, but they can come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. Native quinoa is sustainable because it grows in harmony with the local environment following an agricultural cycle that has been tested over countless generations. By making value added products, we maximize the native quinoa’s value, allowing us to pay a fair price to farmers while building a successful business. 

If this model is successful for quinoa milk, there are endless possibilities for making other products using the huge biodiversity that exists in Peru. (Think quinoa pasta, kañiwa energy bars, tarwi milk etc.) Our goal is to use this model to protect dozens or hundreds of native crop varieties in the future. 

A local farmer cooperative leader in her quinoa fields
A local farmer cooperative leader in her quinoa fields

Launch Plan

We have great quinoa milk recipes and a license to sell quinoa milk in Peru. To launch in the US, we need to develop a product using cutting edge cold pressure technology that keeps natural foods fresh and obtain all the necessary documentation to manufacture and pack the product safely. With all that, plus great branding and marketing materials, we will be ready to make samples and promote this product to potential clients and investors. All we need is your support!

Your donations will go towards

  • Product development package from a beverage lab, including commercial recipe formula for producing this product on a large scale
  • Nutrition study and creation of a nutrition panel
  • FDA/USDA certifications 
  • Other food certifications (Organic, gluten-free, non-GMO) 
  • Create a barcode 
  • Branding and packaging design 
  • Make first samples to send to potential clients

Lab testing for food safety purposes. (Challenge testing) 

Misa quinoa naturally grows in two colors and represents sacred duality in Andean rituals
Misa quinoa naturally grows in two colors and represents sacred duality in Andean rituals

Timeline

April - June

  • Product development
  • Obtain certifications
  • Create packaging design

June - August 

  • Promote product to potential investors and supporters
  • Outreach to organic food stores in the United States 
August - September
  • Place quinoa orders with farmers for the 2017 harvest.

Meet the Team

Keywords: quinoa milk, Peru, vegan, non-dairy milk, dairy-free, gluten-free, alternative milk product, sustainable, plant based nutrition, sustainable agriculture, organic, fair trade, permaculture, food, grains, superfood, Andes, health food, biodiversity, agrobiodiversity, social enterprise, environmental services, water conservation, climate change solutions.

Risks and challenges

The natural beverage market is growing fast, but is also highly competitive which means we have a big job ahead of us. While there are already numerous quality nondairy milk products on the market, we believe our quinoa milk is different because of its unique flavor, story, and nutritional benefits. We will strive to provide outstanding nondairy milk that will stand out at the supermarket and keep customers coming back for more.

Although we have made lots of samples in Peru, we will need to experiment with new recipes before producing it in the United States. In order to have the most natural and healthy product possible we plan to contract a cold pressure processing facility, which will likely require some changes to the formula using all natural ingredients.

We are very excited to offer samples of our quinoa milk as one of the prizes for this campaign. However, product development will take up to 3 months after the campaign is finished and we thank our supporters in advance for their patience. We will keep supporters updated on our progress on facebook and our blog.

Because the quinoa is harvested only once a year, we will need to coordinate with farmers in advance so that they harvest enough native quinoa for our yearly production schedule. Depending on how much quinoa is harvested this year (which is being affected by El Niño) this could cause serious delays or limit the amount of quinoa milk that we can produce in one year. However, this will not interfere with samples or product development and in the future we can avoid these problems by planning ahead.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Every bit counts! We will thank you on our facebook page and send you pictures of native quinoa in full bloom before the harvest in April.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The above, plus an exclusive quinoa themed t-shirt with the Pachakuti Foods logo.

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    43 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The above, plus a special make your own quinoa milk kit, complete with a recipe and rare and delicious native quinoa that you will not find in any store! Taste it to believe it.

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    39 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The above with double the amount of native quinoa for even more delicious quinoa milk, plus 100% alpaca gloves that are fair trade and hand-knit by Andean artisans, brought to you by the social enterprise Awamaki. You will also get a special mention in our thank you video which will be posted on our blog and facebook page.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $550 or more About $550

    You will receive official samples of our completed quinoa milk, plus a 100% alpaca fair trade hand-knit cap from Awamaki. You'll get a special mention in a thank you video which will be posted on our blog and facebook page. Plus pictures and a quinoa t-shirt.

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    2 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    You will receive official samples of our completed quinoa milk delivered to your doorstep, plus a beautiful 100% alpaca fair trade hand knit scarf from Awamaki. You'll get a special mention in a thank you video that will be posted on our blog and facebook page. Plus pictures and a quinoa t-shirt.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A chance to meet the founders for a meal in person in New York or during your next visit to Peru. Official samples of our completed quinoa milk delivered to your doorstep, plus a fabulous fair trade hand woven large pillowcase made with 100% natural dyes. A special mention in a thank you video that will be posted on our blog and facebook page. Plus pictures and a quinoa t-shirt.

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Funding period

- (35 days)