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Zimbabwean Startup Yanaya Introduces New Range of Plant-Based Milk

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, on my walks to Mutare Junior School in Greenside, Mutare, Zimbabwe, I used to be fascinated by all the milk crates on the side of the road. A big truck would deliver milk crates full of milk bottles to the neighbourhood and just leave them on the side of the road. At that time, the milk was packaged in glass bottles. The milkman would later come and take the crates and then do door-to-door deliveries in the neighbourhood using a smaller vehicle. We would then give back the empty glass bottles when we got the new bottles of milk.

Interestingly, the load of crates with milk bottles would just be on the side of the road and people would just walk past them on their way to work or wherever they would wait for the milkman to deliver them to their house on his rounds. It was just normal, no one would try to steal them or anything. The good old days perhaps. I wonder if such a system would work now?

When I got to school, we would also get a sachet of milk every day from the school. I guess it was some sort of subsidised nutrition program. I hated the taste of the milk in the sachet from school. I think the milk was probably fortified with some vitamins and minerals or something and distributed to all primary schools. It didn’t taste as nice at the milk in the glass bottles that we got from the milkman. I had probably had an overdose of dairy milk because by the time I was doing my master’s degree in South Africa, I just could not take dairy milk. I then had to look for alternatives. The most obvious one and easiest to find was soy milk, but I just didn’t like the taste. I also really love the aroma and taste of a good coffee, but around the same time, I also discovered I could no longer handle the normal coffee. I had to switch to decaf. So, when I am in Nairobi and I go to one of my favourite Artcaffes, they already know my order — latte, decaf, soy.

I recently switched from soy to oat milk. It tastes so much better then soy milk for me and now I use it in everything. In Harare, I usually get it from Food Lover’s Market, but they get it from South Africa, and it is actually made in Italy. Given Zimbabwe’s perennial foreign currency shortages and drama associated with that, getting these plant-based products made locally would be a good idea. Which I why I was very excited to hear that a local startup, Yanaya, is launching a new range of plant-based milks, including oat milk. The other good news is that the milk comes in the old-school glass bottles rather than the usual plastic packing from larger dairy milk companies. Reusable glass bottles are much better for the environment.

Plant-based milks also have a much lower impact on the environment, as they use less water and land. The carbon footprint of cow milk is estimated to amount to 1.39 CO2-eq/kg  on average, whilst it is about 0.42 CO2-eq/kg for almond milk. The water footprint of cow milk is also estimated to be 3.5 times higher than that of soy milk.

Yanaya’s oat milk and other plant-based milks will be in stores starting on the 28th of October. I can’t wait to get some.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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