Plant-based ice-cream: the bird is the word

Pink Albatross is Spain’s first clean-label, plant-based ice-cream company. The startup was founded in Madrid by Luke Saldanha and Pepe Biaggio, who were part of the third cohort at the ProVeg Incubator.

Did you know that 75% of the world’s adult population is lactose intolerant? For Pepe Biaggio, allergies became a major topic when his first daughter began suffering from many of them. His challenge was finding quality products that catered to her nutritional needs, and appealed to the whole family, particularly when it came to sweets.

Meanwhile, Luke Saldanha, who has been following a vegan diet for five years, was struggling with a lack of plant-based food options on the Spanish market. When the pair met, they realised that they had two different objectives but that, “the solution was the same”.

In 2018, Luke and Pepe bought an ice-cream machine together and started experimenting, making their own ice-cream at home. The result is Spains’ first clean-label, plant-based ice-cream company: Pink Albatross.

Pepe Biaggio and Luke Saldanha, co-founders of Pink Albatross

So, why ice-cream?

“When you walk into the supermarket, 15 to 20% of the allocated milk space is dedicated to plant-based alternatives”, says Luke Saldanha.

In fact, studies show that half of all American and European customers now use plant-based milk, instead of or in addition to cow’s milk. In Asian Pacific and Latin American regions that figure jumps to around two thirds. It’s actually the number-one selling product type in the plant-based sector.

“That same reality, however, does not transfer over to the ice cream section”, says Luke. “Why wouldn’t those same people be looking for dairy alternatives in other categories?”

The options for plant-based consumers in Spain, or those with allergies, were non-existent at that time, despite ice-cream being a €1.7 billion sector in that country. Luke and Pepe identified this gap in the market and decided to fill it.

“Our raw materials are real food. If we can’t draw the ingredient on the packet, it’s not going into our ice-cream.” – Pepe Biaggio

Pink Albatross ice-cream products with flavours including mango, hazelnut, and chocolate

Nothing artificial here, please 

For Luke and Pepe it was extremely important to create a clean product using “real food” and no artificial components. “If we can’t draw the ingredient on the packet”, says Pepe, “it is not going into our ice-cream”. “I can draw a coconut for example, but I can’t draw an emulsifier or an E-471.”

In this way, Pink Albatross ice-cream, which comes in five different flavours, caters to plant-based eaters, clean eaters, and people suffering from allergies such as lactose, soya, or gluten. The base ingredients are coconut and cashew milk.

“Our raw materials are real food and we only use seven to nine ingredients per ice-cream flavour”, says Pepe. “From that angle, it’s healthy food. That’s why we have ‘pink’ in our brand name because pink suggests a healthy status. For example, someone with pink cheeks is understood to be looking well. The colour has a positive connotation.”

“We’re trying to get the world to move towards a more sustainable, compassionate diet.” – Luke Saldanha

Let’s talk about the bird

Luke and Pepe decided to name their company Pink Albatross because they wanted to stand out, but also because the albatross is an inspiration for them.

Luke says, “The albatross is capable of flying extremely high above the earth, up to 10,000 feet. It also travels around the earth multiple times in its lifetime. This species has a very unique perspective of what’s going on below and our target consumer is like that. They are forward-thinking and aware of what’s going on in the world.”

In the largest report of its kind to date, scientists agree that a high consumption rate of meat and dairy products is fuelling global warming. They recommended adopting a plant-based diet as one of the top actions that could be taken to combat climate change.

The future of the albatross

Pink Albatross started selling ice-cream in 2019 and now has products in almost 70 locations in Spain. Next, the company is planning to expand to Portugal and Great Britain and explore other product options like plant-based desserts.

Luke says, “Both of us used to work in the corporate world, where your ability to make a decision and see the impact is limited. Here it’s the contrary. In the startup world, nothing gets done unless you’re pushing it. You have to make that effort, but that effort is rewarded immediately”.

The global non-dairy milk market is expected to be worth an estimated $38 billion by 2024. In Spain, there was a rise of 10%  in the number of plant-based eaters in 2019 alone. This is a sector that is growing and a trend that is not going away. In such a lucrative market, we are excited to see the progress of Pink Albatross inthe future!

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