Soymilk Drinkers Ahoy! 7


Gary Steel tries a proudly Australian organic soymilk and gags on gloop.

The offending product

The offending product

DOWN HERE IN the Antipodes, it’s hard to find a good soymilk.
Go back more than 10 years, and NZ used to get organic Vitasoy directly from Hong Kong, in both 1-litre containers and convenient snack-sized portions. And it tasted great – the thickest, creamiest soymilk I’ve ever experienced.
Then the Aussies got their hands on the brand, and we couldn’t get the original Hong Kong version anymore. The snack-sized containers disappeared from NZ supermarket shelves, and for some reason that I still find bizarre, the Australians decided that the 1-litre boxes had to be thinner and taller. This made the milk more difficult to pour, and led to much cussing and swearing from this loyal customer, because it was all too easy to fail in one’s quest to open a box without making a mess. Sometimes, the opening tab failed altogether, and I had to resort to a savage attack from knife or scissors.

“The ‘milk’, possibly because it was so comparatively watery, had a slightly glue-type smell/taste, on some occasions more apparent than others.”

But the worst thing about the Aussie version of Vitasoy was that despite advertising the product as being the same as the original Hong Kong product, the formula was clearly different: it didn’t taste as good, and it was less thick, and less creamy. The ‘milk’, possibly because it was so comparatively watery, had a slightly glue-type smell/taste, on some occasions more apparent than others.
Even more disappointing is the fact that the Aussie license-holders have never responded to consumer requests to alter the formula. My complaints certainly went unanswered, except for a terse email saying that because they were Aussie beans grown in Aussie conditions, they would automatically taste different. Right then.

Inferior Aussie Vitasoy

Inferior Aussie Vitasoy

Other potential replacements for Vitasoy came and went, but nothing proved to be up to the task. Too many of the soymilk products aren’t organic. While I don’t doubt that soy is a miracle product, and I’m not at all worried about the propaganda that it might make my man-boobs swell, I’m still not willing to drink soymilk made by pesticide-laced soybeans, or risk the possibility of ingesting ‘milk’ from GM soy. So sorry, Sanitarian, So Good is off my menu – and it tastes pretty lame, anyway.

“I’m not at all worried about the propaganda that it might make my man-boobs swell.”

So then, I was pretty excited when I spotted a new product in the supermarket: Australia’s Own Premium (Organic) Soy.
While I despise this tendency that Australians have to get all excited about having its own products, and then marketing them to their poorer cousins (us Kiwis) as though we give a rat’s ass that they’re “Australia’s own”, I thought that because of its organic status, and its reasonably affordable price, it was worth a punt.
I was wrong. Australia’s Own Premium Soy tastes okay, although like the Australian-licensed Vitasoy, the flavour lacks the creaminess and delicious rounded taste of the Hong Kong Vitasoy.
It’s a bit thin and watery, and soon enough I was to find out why: the ‘body’ of the soy all drifts to the bottom of the package, making what I can only describe as a gelatinous gloop on the bottom.
I had to throw away the last centimetres of that first package, because it simply wouldn’t pour; it was that solid. So I re-read the package, which said to make sure to shake it to avoid sedimentation. So I bought a few more packets, and followed the instructions. Glug on the bottom, regardless of shaking. I don’t know quite how to explain the thick slime at the bottom, but it’s pretty disgusting.
In my naivety, I thought that perhaps it was just a problem with a particular batch, so I emailed the makers of Australia’s Own Soy, Freedom Foods. Notwithstanding the dubious grammar, to their credit, they replied straight away; not to their credit was the answer:

Thank you for contacting Freedom Foods with your feedback regarding Australia’s Own Premium Soy.

We appreciate you taking the time to notify us about the issue you had with our product it is always a good idea to contact the company directly. We take all feedback seriously and all comments are passed onto the manufacturing teams.

Sedimentation can happen because we use whole soy beans which are milled to a flour and then water is added. Some batches may vary from time to time. However the product is still fine to consume.

Should you have any further question we now have a great new website for you, www.freedomfoods.com.au. It has up to date product information such as where to buy our products, nutritional information and you can also search through our frequently asked questions.

Regards,

Wendy McFarlane
Consumer Relations

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I find that reply lacking in just about every way. It acknowledges that sedimentation may occur, and explains why it might happen, but doesn’t acknowledge that it’s any kind of ongoing problem, or offer any suggestions. It says that the product is still fine to consume, although from my perspective, having a couple of inches of gloopy slime at the bottom of each product means that it doesn’t go anywhere near to being up to scratch. In fact, you would have to be a fool to try and consume the gloopy slime (and you’d have to cut the package open to access it, anyway) which means that you’re not even getting the quantity of actual soymilk you’re paying for.

“I don’t know quite how to explain the thick slime at the bottom, but it’s pretty disgusting.”

I’m tired of rote responses from companies to serious questions. I don’t know if every packet of Australia’s Own Premium Soy has this problem, but I purchased quite a few over the period of a month, and they were all, in my opinion, defective.
And just to make sure I wasn’t nuts, I checked Freedom Food’s own website to find user feedback like this:
“I was relieved to find a sugar free soy. But once I’ve opened it and then put it in the fridge it turns into a thick gluggy slop and is horrible. I wonder if this problem can be fixed. I’m fed up with the waste.”
Vegetarian, vegan and other consumers who use soy products because they won’t use dairy are stuck between a rock, and a very hard place, because the choice down here is so limited. If NZ and Aussie companies are serious about servicing customers who potentially use their brand, ongoing, over a very long time, then they should up their act, improve their products, and get real with their customers. GARY STEEL

PS, Any of our readers want to share their soymilk experiences? And anyone here distributing a superior soymilk? Let me know!


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7 thoughts on “Soymilk Drinkers Ahoy!

  • Sean Tuhakaraina

    I work with a number of international students, I have noticed a trend that a few of these students bringing fresh soy milk onto campus. In discussion, it’s not uncommon for these students to make their own soy milk at home (the makers are readily available in Perth). As I only consume soy in lattes, it’s not an economic option for me but perhaps something to look into.

    So I find myself buying Coles brand soy milk, it just seems to texture more nicely than the mainstream brands I have tried and the taste and creaminess is actually quite good

  • Deb

    I live in Aus and buy a soy milk from Aldi. I had been purchasing it for around 16 months, when I found the same slimy grey, golly looking goop in my latte as well, after taking a sip. Yuk!! Yuk!! Yuuuk!! Thinking it was the coffee machine, I cleaned it out, but it was the milk, when finding it in my cereal the next week in a different carton.
    I can’t seem to find an answer to what it is exactly, but it’s disgusting, and why is it grey? The milk definitely wasn’t off, as I had only just opened it.

  • Nick

    Fully Automatic Joyoung DJ13B-D08D soy milk maker, simply add soy beans and water and start machine to make fresh soy, almond or just about any other nut or grain milk from around 30 cents a liter in 30 minutes.
    Top quality with all internal contact parts 100% stainless steel.
    A really nutritious, low fat and delicious alternative to dairy.
    Great for healthy baking too!
    Why pay $4 a liter for inferior soy milk with added fat and sugar from the
    supermarket?.
    I have been using one of these for over 3 years now completely trouble free and with great results.

  • Rachel W

    Hi Nick, I’d be really interested in trying the milk maker you suggested, if it truly does work just as well creating nut milks as well. Where did you purchase yours from and how much did it set you back? Sounds like it could be a very, very handy kitchen appliance…

  • Warren

    My wife has had a soya bean milk machine now for several years and is always making it. Now she has to take some into her work as her work mates love it too.

  • Jillins

    Well, for years I would only use organic soymilk and as Sanitarium So Good was the only soymilk I could find on NZ shelves that didn’t contain Gluten (PureHarvest I didn’t like), I’ve been happy enough with that. It made me beautiful yoghurt each week when combined with a little coconut cream.

    Anyway, bad news for me because Sanitarium have recently deleted it from their range owing to poor customer reviews and dwindling sales. I am gutted. It was the perfect milk for my yoghurt and I’m floundering what to do now.

    A quick search just now has brought up the following at Huckles site:
    Bonsoy Organic Soy Milk 1L $9.20
    Pacific Natural Foods Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk 946ml normally NZ$7.50 but on special just now for $6.60.
    Then there’s Pure Harvest Organic Soy Milk which is a fair bit cheaper, but I think I once tried this and it was not at all pleasant.

    I’m still reeling from the cost of the Bonsoy. What are we seeing here? A misguided manufacturer, a retailer rort, or what? It sure isn’t the sweet point for soymilk pricing, organic or not. I was buying the So Good Organic Soymilk for NZ$3.13 per litre when on special at the supermarket, and before it got pulled. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt.

  • steve

    I use to purchase Australian organic soy till I found out it was all made from fluoridated water, I now totally avoid it at all cost and would advice anyone to do so as well.