Koko Dairy Free review

Finding an alternative to dairy is not easy

Koko Dairy Free review - A Free From Life

I have a son who is dairy intolerant and at one time, the only real alternative was soya milk. Although he has that when we go out to a coffee shop or restaurant (because that’s usually all they offer), I don’t give him it at home. Soya contains phytoestrogens, which mimic the hormone oestrogen. Taken as a supplement by women of menopausal age, when oestrogen levels are low, it does not sit well with me to give anything containing phytoestrogens to my boy. Although the evidence to back up the effects of phytoestrogens on male fertility is weak, I would rather not take the risk.

So, what to do?

My son didn’t like almond milk, but he loved rice milk and I thought this would make a great alternative to soya, especially as you can buy it with added calcium. However, the risk of arsenic poisoning from rice products is so high, even the Food Standards Agency recommend that you don’t give rice milk to young children.

Thank goodness for Koko Dairy Free

When I discovered a dairy free alternative to milk that doesn’t contain soya or rice, I breathed a sigh of relief, especially as they have one with added calcium too. The milk is fresh and light, with a subtle flavour and can be used as a straight forward substitute to dairy.

The milk is available in 1 litres cartons, or packs of three 250ml individual cartons with straws, perfect for lunch boxes. Flavours include strawberry and chocolate and I recently utilised some to make this delicious alternative to ice-cream:

Koko dairy free strawberry and banana ice cream - A Free From Life

I confess to not buying the flavoured milks very often, so it’s a real treat when I do cave (usually when I have someone ‘helping’ me do the shopping!). I use the plain milk when I make porridge. This apple, pear and cinnamon one is a real hit in our house and has got us through the colder months:

Porridge with Apple, pear and cinnamon puree - A Free From Life

 

Dairy free spread

Last year, when I went to the Allergy and Free From Show in London, I discovered Koko Dairy Free were just launching an alternative spread. Of course, I snapped some up and couldn’t wait to try it. I’d tried using coconut oil as an alternative to butter in baking and found the results very different. Using a margarine is the next best thing to butter, but then you have the additional factor of using hydrogenated fats to worry about.

Koko Dairy Free review - A Free From Life
Photo Credit: Koko Dairy Free

Margarine is made by pumping hydrogen into oil to harden it. That’s hydrogenation and there are concerns over the health risks of consumption. Butter, used in moderation, is a much safer option, but what do you do if you can’t eat it?

I contacted Koko Dairy Free when I got home from the Allergy Show to find out how they make their spread and this was the response I received:

We don’t use any hydrogenated oils or hydrogenation processes in the production of Koko Dairy Free spread. The hardness of the product comes from two of the oils which are naturally hard under refrigeration, but which soften at room temperature. These are the coconut oil, and palm oil (from certified sustainable sources). They are simply blended with rape seed oil and sunflower oil in carefully chosen proportions to achieve the desired consistency under refrigeration and room temperatures.

Another sigh of relief breathed and another tick for Koko products. I can safely say that this spread works well in baking. I used it recently in this apple slice:

Apple Slice - A Free From Life

A new offering

It’s amazing what excites me these days, but I did genuinely jump up and down when I saw Koko have brought out a range of yoghurts. Again, the alternative is mainly soya-based, with the only other coconut yoghurt on the market being expensive.

Sold in packs of two 125ml pots, the yoghurts come in strawberry, raspberry, coconut and lemon and peach and passion fruit flavours. You can also get a larger, 500g pot of plain yoghurt. Again, the coconut flavour is subtle and the consistency is smooth and similar to that of ordinary yoghurt, as oppose to the thicker, Greek style. More importantly, from my son’s point of view, the fruit flavours are great and there are no ‘bits’.

I would like to thank Koko Dairy Free for sending us some of their lovely products to try. The opinions expressed in this review are that of my own and my son’s.

All I’d like to say to finish is can you make cheese?

About Nicola Young

Freelance writer and copywriter

2 thoughts on “Koko Dairy Free review

  1. I use koko milk, and have recently persuaded my husband to have this in his tea. Only one thing is on my mind, and that is, ate all your products palm oil free, and also is the process of making this product ethica? ..I know it has the Vegan trade mark..

    1. Hi Yvonne. I spoke to the company about this and they gave this response:

      The coconuts that are used in Koko are grown in our plantation that is on the east coast of Sumatra, directly across the straits from Singapore. Coconut is a robust tree but it is specific in its needs, the main two being salt and water and this is why you find coconuts growing behind beaches and along the coast. You can’t grow a coconut up a mountainside or in an area away from the coast so you can’t do with coconut what happens with palm oil which is basically chopping down the rainforest to get extra land for cultivation. Also, coconut takes 7-8 years before it produces fruit so there has been no significant new planting for 30 years as the economics of slow tree growth and limited suitable land has meant coconut has remained a cash crop, where local farmers harvest the trees that are growing naturally on their land. We developed our plantation 40 years ago on a coastal swamp and this is fed by canals to keep the water table at the correct level and so we can let sea water in to provide the salt. This is also how we transport the product to the processing factory – there are no lorries, vans or cars at the factory or on the plantation and there are no roads in or out, everything is done by boat. The finished product is taken by barge to Singapore where it is transported to the UK by container ship, with each container having approximately 18 tonnes of product inside it. We believe we have a very sustainable model that has been running for a significant amount of time and as far as CO2 count is very low owing to transportation in large volumes. There are no coconuts in Europe so they all have to come from far off lands and in the closest parts to the UK (such as West Africa) there is no exporting of coconut milk, with all coconut production generally going to local use.

      Because of where the factory is based, we run a philanthropic type of commercial venture that is not too dissimilar to how the likes of Cadbury, Lever and Titus Salt did things in the 19th century. We provide housing for our workers along with a free meal per shift as well as subsidised electricity and free water. We have to produce our own electricity (which we do by burning waste coconut shells to make steam to drive the turbines) and purify and treat our own water for use as drinking water but also for use in the factory as well as handling the waste aspects of the community and the factory. We also provide schools, places of worship and medical facilities on site. All in all, it is a fully supported system with most aspects being provided by the company. While all this sounds very nice, it must also be remembered that we need to attract people to work for us as there is no local community to provide workers. Consequently, you need to look after people to have a loyal and trained workforce. We are the major supplier of coconut to Marks and Spencer who have the most stringent ethical audits and we have also passed the SA8000 accreditation for social accountability which is a high level audit for things such as workers’ rights and conditions, minimum wages, right to strike etc. We have looked at Fairtrade but we do not fit their model because of the plantation (their model works for independent, local farmers) but we are currently undergoing Rainforest Alliance accreditation to prove our environmental status. We should have accomplished this by March of next year.

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