The world's first avocado milk - made in the Hawke's Bay - has been flying off supermarket shelves in the United States and is on track to surpass $1 million in sales by August.
The drink, developed by Auckland chef and TV personality and the owner of Asian cooking school Sachie's Kitchen, Sachie Nomura, came about following a failed attempt in the kitchen.
Nomura has spent the last four years developing "hundreds" of iterations of the recipe, and invested about $500,000 into research and development. Her Avocadomilk product is now in 100 stores in the US, through Californian supermarket chains Gelson's Markets and Lassen's, and has piqued the interest of Target, which is reinventing itself and pushing into the grocery space.
Sales of the drink priced at US$7.99 for 800ml are expected to surpass $1 million within in the next six months. It went on sale in the US in November.
Nomura says the drink has 40 per cent of a regular-sized avocado in one 800ml bottle, and was a "world first", which had made it easy to get supermarkets in America to get on board and stock the product.
"What we learnt - why there isn't avocado milk in the market - is that, from hard experience, it is one of the most unstable fruits in the world; it would go brown, oil separation occurs, let alone how to de-husk, de-pip an avocado, and generate a beverage with a shelf life and make it taste [good]," Nomura said, adding that's what took the four years of research and development.
Unlike most Kiwi export companies, the US was Avocadomilk's first launch market. America, as an export market, is often put in the "too hard basket" by New Zealand companies - usually left to later down the track to explore.
"Our market research told us that California was the place that was the trendsetter when it comes to alternative plant-based products, and that's where all the major food trends occur - we figured that was the place to go," Nomura told the Herald.
"We put our feelers out to some of the retailers there and have had amazing responses."
The drink is sold in plain and cacao-flavoured varieties. It was last night named the best health and wellness drink at the World Food Innovations Awards held in London.
It is made in Hawke's Bay from avocados imported from Mexico. So far the company has produced more than 100,000 litres of the milk, the equivalent of about 160,000 bottles.
The company has no immediate plans to bring the milk to New Zealand. However, it does plan to launch a dairy version of the avocado milk in Aotearoa in the future. It also plans to roll-out a food service product for cafes and restaurants.
"The product is 100 per cent plant-based right now, but we certainly think with New Zealand having a really strong dairy heritage there's an opportunity to make a dairy version of avocado milk - ice cream avocado milk, yoghurt avocado milk."
Nomura said she had already developed the recipe for a dairy version and was looking for a partner with the expertise to help her bring it to the market in New Zealand.
"Our big focus right now is the west coast of America, then we'll start moving up into Portland and Colorado. We've already had demand from the east coast, from New York, so we'll service that as well as central markets in Texas. Once we have that nutted out we'll start to look at other markets."