After producing milk in New York City for more than 80 years, Elmhurst Dairy shut down its Queens facility in August 2016. The owners described the business as no longer ‘economically viable’ at the time, though that didn’t last for long.
In May 2017, Elmhurst rebranded as Elmhurst Milked, a completely non-dairy creamery producing plant-based milk alternatives. It’s still going strong today and is also known as Elmhurst 1925.
CEO Henry Schwartz teamed up with Dr. Cheryl Mitchell, a food technologist and plant nutrition pioneer, to bring a line of dairy alternative beverages to market. Mitchell developed the HydroRelease™ technology that extracts a naturally creamy liquid from the plant base without the help of gums or emulsifiers that she says other dairy alternative brands aren’t capable of.
For this reason, Elmhurst refers to its beverages as ‘milked’ products rather than ‘milk’. The dairy industry is currently undergoing changes to better define and restrict labeling to control which products can and cannot be referred to as dairy.
The team started with a core lineup of hazelnut, cashew and almond milked beverages last year and has been steadily expanding the offerings since. Walnut, brown rice and oat flavors soon joined the ranks, as well as unsweetened varieties made from just two ingredients: nuts and water.
“When we did the unsweetened varieties, people were beginning to understand the technology more and were beginning to understand that we’re doing something different,” Mitchell told DairyReporter.
Growing the Elmhurst family
Elmhurst’s most recent additions are new flavors Unsweetened Milked Cashews and Unsweetened Milked Walnuts. The team also has a hemp flavor in the works, developed from hemp seeds Elmhurst grows itself in New York.
Expanding beyond the traditional beverage cartons, the company is launching a line of ready-to-drink protein shakes. Expected for late 2018 and early 2019, the chocolate peanut, vanilla bean, chocolate banana and café mocha-flavored shakes will contain 20g of protein per serving.
Mitchell said the brand is also looking into developing a ‘rice-based hydration formula’ for use in everyday sports hydration. The functional beverage reportedly hydrates you faster and more efficiently than electrolytes and carbohydrates can by themselves.
According to Mitchell, it’s highly effective in hydrating for sports events as it is hypo-allergenic, more neutral and not acidic with no added colors.
“We see this product being very applicable to young children. Instead of giving them a sugary glucose beverage, they’re going to find that this is very easy to drink. It’s very satisfying and it quenches your thirst almost immediately,” Mitchell said.
Elmhurst products are available nationwide at Whole Foods, Walmart, Wegmans, Gelson’s, Publix, Shaw’s and Fairway, as well as online at Amazon.com and Elmhurst1925.com. The new launches will be rolling out gradually to brick-and-mortar locations in the coming months.