Ugandan based food processor Smart Foods develops innovative plant-based yogurt from soy-milk, coconut

UGANDA – Ugandan dairy and meat alternative development startup, Smart Foods Limited has gotten a Utility Model or 2nd class patent in respect to an invention of a product and process method for yoghurt as result of a unique blending process of soymilk and coconut meat.

The intellectual property right aimed to protect the invention was granted to Martin Ssali, Founder and Managing Director of Smart Foods Limited on 22nd December 2020.

The innovation by the budding startup came in response to the need to offer alternative milk and meat products which can be sustainably sourced eliminating the need to raise animals that is deemed to be a very expensive venture and non-environmentally friendly.

“The final product has a no beany flavor, it has a clean taste just like dairy products and when offered a blind product taste, one may not be able to tell the difference with dairy.”

Martin Ssali – Founder and Managing Director of Smart Foods Limited

In addition, Smart Foods was also keen to bring on board most individuals who have been sidelined from consuming animal based dairy or meat products especially the growing vegan population and lactose intolerant individuals.

To this end, Smart Foods which is one of the anchor tenants at the Food technology Business Incubation Center, Makerere University turned to development and market testing of diary and meat alternatives included different types of Tofu (soybean curd), flavored soy nuts, soymilks, instant soymilk powders, and now dairy free soy and coconut-based yoghurt.

Martin however notes that initial innovations of soy and coconut-based yogurts were not at par, as the final product did not taste anything close to dairy based products.

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In some occasions it lost its original nutritious value due to the plenty of additives incorporated in it, beating the point of creating an alternative product.

In addition, processors were forced to invest in very expensive and sophisticated processing equipment so as to remove/reduce the beany flavor, disagreeable taste, odor and/or color from the soymilk.

With the latest innovation, Martin reveals that, “The final product has a no beany flavor, it has a clean taste just like dairy products and when offered a blind product taste, one may not be able to tell the difference with dairy.”

Professor John Muyonga, the former dean of the School of Food Technology Nutrition and Bioengineering expressed his excitement of the work of Martin for this shows the value of dedication to science and markets.

Associate Professor Ivan Mukisa, Head of Department of Food Science and Technology and Associate Professor Abel Atukwase, current dean School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering, Makerere University also equally expressed their appraise for Martin, mentioning that this disclosure will pave a new path for more innovations not only by Martin, but by several other entrepreneurs.

Martin who is also the winner of 2018 Food Media African Youth Agribusiness Award, has a vision of seeing this invention get into global retail, branded and food service chains. To this end he has expressed openness to licensing and commercialization discussions.

His innovation is a welcomed move in the global plant-based food market which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach US$74.2 billion by 2027, according to Meticulous Research.

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