As a passionate BMX racer conscious of his diet, and after watching The Game Changer - a documentary highlighting the benefits athletes have found on a vegan diet, Daniel Williams decided to try giving veganism a go.
At the time, in December 2020, Williams was on the road a lot, operating his own car grooming business and he loved using chocolate milk to fuel his journeys.
While the diet only lasted about two weeks, “Hopeless I know,” laughed Williams, who is still a vegetarian, it was long enough for him to realise there were not many options for plant-based chocolate milk, and so, VegiFare was born, a dairy-free chocolate milk made from oats.
Williams, an entrepreneur since the age of 12, noted that from there, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.
“Fast forward to May 2021, we had a house fire which wiped out the house along with all the vehicles on the property (up until this point I was still doing car grooming and also had a motorbike shop that operated from home), the fire took out both!
“Funnily enough some of the only stuff to survive was my VegiFare stuff. It was almost a total refresh life wise. From there I decided to go full steam ahead with VegiFare, committing almost every waking hour to it.”
VegiFare’s ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible, including the oats, which are grown by Otago-based Harraways. Oat milk is lactose free, lower in fat and full of dietary fibre compared to dairy products and unlike most other oat milks, VegiFare does not contain any oil.
Oil is a common ingredient in plant-based milks to add nutritional fat content and consistency when heated for coffee, but Williams noted that he wanted to provide an oil-free option.
So far, feedback from customers has been awesome, according to Willams, with some customers ranking it as the best chocolate milk they’ve ever tried. With that said, the VegiFare team are still heading back into the development room to make some exciting improvements.
“These are not around taste, people love the taste. Unfortunately, I have been cursed with the perfectionist gene, always looking for where improvements can be made, and these will be around the health benefits you receive from our chocolate oat milk.”
Williams said he expects to start entering supermarkets (at scale) mid next year.
"Our current production facility (in Auckland) is not designed for scale, but I’m putting in a load of work around getting a facility built in Christchurch,” he explained, adding that there was a lack of infrastructure for producing oat milk in Aotearoa.
Williams said he was speaking to other oat milk producers who could potentially produce with VegiFare. His venture would be funded by private and public investors, with the majority of quotes already in place.