Lilk on Shelf lifestyle

Lilk plans to use the new investment to expand its product range and bulk up its retail presence with supermarkets next year

Award-winning alternative dairy drinks start-up Lilk has scored a six-figure investment to help launch its range in the supermarkets in 2022.

Half the backing came from industry veteran Giles Brook, with the rest made up by private investors, the business’ founders told The Grocer.

Brother-and-sister duo Bastien and Elisa Eymery, along with business partner Emily Hayes, created the challenger while stuck in their London home during the coronavirus lockdown last year.

The trio decided to launch their own plant-based drinks brand after being disappointed with the offerings currently available.

Lilk’s two-strong range is made using a blend of ingredients rather than just one base flavour in an attempt to mimic the mouthfeel and taste of milk more closely.

The Common Blend variety – made with a combination of oat and rice – picked up a top prize at the recent Grocer New Product Awards in the dairy-free category.

A listing with Ocado is set to go live on 5 January and soon after with online grocer Farmdrop.

Lilk plans to use the new investment to expand its product range and bulk up its retail presence with other supermarkets next year.

CEO Bastien Eymery said: “We’re a young, ambitious team with a diverse pool of talents. We’re thrilled to have Giles on board, and we look forward to tapping into his unparalleled expertise to help supercharge growth.”

Co-founder Elisa Eymery added: “People are now really wanting a ‘one-stop shop’ milk that can do everything, without feeling like they’re compromising when making the switch from dairy. Lilk’s strength is to have developed delicious, go-to milks. Having different blends means that we can please different palates and cater to different occasions.”

Demand from consumers for milk alternatives has boomed in the past year, with retail sales jumping 14.2% to £535.4m [Kantar 52 w/e August 2021], according to The Grocer’s latest category report.

Investors are also keen to get involved, with Irn-Bru owner AG Barr last week taking a 60% stake in oat milk maker Moma Foods and Britvic acquiring Plenish earlier in the year.

Giles Brook, who joins Lilk as lead investor and advisor, has built a considerable portfolio of food & drink brands since selling Urban Fresh Foods, where he was one of the founding partners, to Lotus Bakeries for £71m in December 2015.

His investments include the likes of Mindful Chef, Pip & Nut, Dalston’s Soda, Presto, Edgard & Cooper, Bepps and Sir Kensington.

Since stepping down as CEO of Vita Coco in January this year, Brook has ramped up his activity in the sector, backing Bio & Me, Neat, Fearne & Rosie, Cheeky Panda and, most recently, ethical chocolate brands Love Cocoa and Hip Chocolate.

“Plant-based milk has seen meteoric growth, but two-thirds of UK households still don’t purchase it,” Brook said.

“A significant proportion of households – mine included – who have converted to plant milk continue to consume dairy milk alongside it. Taste is still a significant barrier to entry.

“Through its unique blended proposition, Lilk has developed the tastiest, omni-occasion dairy alternative I’ve come across by far.”