Cheers to oat milk!

Daniel Williams with one of the first bottles of chocolate oat milk off the production line.

A young Ashburton entrepreneur plans to take on the dairy industry producing his own brand of chocolate flavoured oat milk.

Daniel Williams, 19, has launched Vegifare an oat based chocolate drink he hopes will not only appeal to vegans but dairy drinkers will switch over to the benefits of oats.

‘‘We have designed the product to make it taste like dairy, and it does taste like dairy, you can’t tell it’s oat milk,’’ Daniel said.

The health benefits over alternative milk options is another selling point. ‘‘Our product is low in fat, carbs and sugar, high in dietary fibres compared to other milk options, it is New Zealand made with almost all natural ingredients,’’ he said.

Daniel came up with the idea for an oat based chocolate milk when he trialled a vegan lifestyle two years ago.

‘‘I attempted to go vegan for health and sport reasons, at the time I had a car grooming business so I was on the road all the time, and there was no chocolate milk alternatives to dairy milk.’’

His entrepreneurial eye saw a gap in the market he could fill, and after a lot of research and finding shareholders to help fund the venture, Daniel launched Vegifare.

The first batch rolled off the production line last month in Auckland.

Auckland is currently the only place with a manufacturer who can both produce and bottle oat milk. Daniel’s goal is to set up a production facility in Mid Canterbury.

‘‘The key is to get good traction over six months then we can make our own facilities here.’’ Apart from manufacturing, everything else is done in Ashburton including storage and label printing.

The oats are from Otagobased Harraways, and Daniel attempted to develop the recipe himself.

‘‘I worked on it for three months until it got to a tricky part, so I ended up hiring a food scientist in Auckland.’’

The milk is ultra-heat treated at 142.5 degrees preserving it without adding preservatives.

‘‘Almost everything is natural in it, no added oils, oils can be common in oat milk, I’m just trying to make it as healthy as possible.’’

Daniel, who went to Ashburton College, may be young but he has plenty of experience running a business, starting when he was 12 years old grooming cars, then he set up a motorbike shop from home, distributing motorcycles for an Australian company.

He thrives on the challenge of creating a successful product ‘‘I’m just obsessed with it,’’ he said. The plan for his latest venture is to start selling in Ashburton and Christchurch, then to Auckland and Wellington.

-By Daniel Tobin