Whether you suffer from a milk allergy or intolerance or have revisited plant-based milk alternatives due to health or ethical reasons, there is no denying that the dairy-free (or freefrom) market is on the rise. Tesco have supplied us with soya and rice milk as a part of their own-brand & freefrom food range for a while now (years and years even!), but our food preferences have influenced their food production just that one step further! They now stock their shelves with their own-brand almond milk! Stumbling upon this during our weekly shopping trip was a happy accident indeed. 🙂
Many companies offer almond milk these days, but it’s great to see major supermarkets finally producing their own!
Tesco offer both an unsweetened and sweetened UHT version, which is perfect as not everyone has refrigerator space for four or five cartons of milk (well, particularly those that meal prep and/or eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables- us included)! Additionally, they also sell a fresh version, but it’s sweetened.
So, how does it compare to other leading brands…
…well in this instance we have compared it to ‘Alpro’!
Ingredients & Nutritional Info
Personally, we would always opt for buying unsweetened milks!
- Both milks contain 2% almonds, which isn’t really a lot when you think about it! In fact, almonds are listed as the second ingredient to water! Maybe it’s about time we all start to make our own?!
- Per 100ml/:
»They are both low in calories; Tesco’s is slightly higher but it’s negligible.
»They are both low in sugar (not surprisingly!) and salt; Tesco has slightly less salt but again the quantity is negligible.
»They both have the same quantity of protein and fats.
»Tesco’s version has slightly more carbohydrates, but that’s because it’s third ingredient is added ‘maltodextrin’ (which we discuss shortly).
- They both use the same thickening agents: ‘Gellan Gum’ and ‘Carob Gum’ (which is also known as ‘Locust Bean Gum’; E410).(¹)
- They both fortify their milks with: Calcium, Vitamins D, B2 and B12; their quantities vary ever so very slightly, but not enough for it to be a deciding factor over it’s product quality.
- Tesco does not fortify it’s milk with Vitamin E, but Alpro does; unlike B12, Vitamin E is found naturally in numerous plant-based food items, e.g. avocados, wheat germ, vegetable oils and nuts,(²) so this is not by any means a travesty!
- Obviously they are both dairy-free and ‘vegan’, but also gluten and wheat free.
- Alpro has the Vegan Society’s seal of approval; Tesco has yet to get their milk recognised by the Vegan Society!
You’ll experience the same delicious, slightly sweet and nutty taste in both brands but Tesco’s version is slightly thicker; a lot of almond milk’s have a ‘watery’ taste (similar to s/s cow’s milk). The thicker taste is down to the fact that Tesco’s third ingredient is maltodextrin; a manufactured sugar/starchy carbohydrate (a ‘polysaccharide‘), used as a multi-purpose food additive that can have a mild and sweet taste. It can be derived from various cereal starches, i.e. wheat, corn, tapicoa, rice, (³) or potatoes. It’s added to food products to help thicken, bind and/or flavour them.
For us, the thicker taste is welcomed but it all comes down to personal preference. A thicker milk would come in handy for those that cannot consume soya (but prefer a fuller-bodied milk), do not enjoy soya, oat or coconut milks or those who need an alternative/fuller and versatile milk that they could use in their dairy-free sauces, milkshakes, soups and/or curries etc.
Another good point is that it didn’t curdle in our tea (as some dairy free milk has a habit of doing!).
- The cost of Tesco’s Unsweetened Almond Milk is currently £1.40/1L/carton.
- Alpro’s Unsweetened Almond Milk varies from store to store; occasionally you can only purchase a UHT or fresh version at any one store. At Tesco, Alpro’s UHT Unsweetened Almond Milk currently costs £1.70/L/carton.
Everyone has different tastes and budgets, but these two products are both fortified and taste great. Personally speaking, half of the reason as to why we purchase dairy-free milk is for the dietary calcium, Vitamin D and B12 supplementation that it provides! Currently there are quite a few dairy-free milks on the market (inclusive of almond) that do not provide you with many or any extra added nutrients, so make sure to check the labels before you buy them!
The biggest influence for us is cost. If a product is cheaper (but not inferior in taste or quality), then that’s our decision made. Almond milk is currently more expensive than some other-dairy free milks (but in no means the most expensive!), but there’s no doubt that Tesco will have a sale on it at some point; you can occasionally find Alpro milk’s on offer for £1/carton or 2 for £2.
Tesco’s almond milk advises that you should use it within three days of opening, whilst Alpro advises using theirs within five. These use by dates are generally not a problem for us; a carton of milk typically only lasts about two days (between the two of us!) but even so, we’ve used dairy-free milk and yoghurt’s up until seven days with no ill effect.
Lastly, both their ‘unopened’ use-by dates are about the same (8-9 months from the date of purchase).
Our Overall Opinion
There are plenty of brands that currently sell almond and various other dairy-free milks and Alpro used to be our ‘almond milk’ of choice, but unless Tesco suddenly changes the taste, cost or skimps on its fortification, then this will now be our preferred brand. Like any food item, it will all come down to diet, lifestyle, budget and/or personal preferences.
If you’ve never previously tried almond milk or have have a bad experience with it, this product is worth giving it a first or second chance!
Our only requests for Tesco would be to add a few more almonds (it’s cheeky we know, but please!) and to start selling it in larger cartons; 2 litres would be perfect! A lot of North American non-dairy milks are sold in 1L, 2L or 4.55L(1 gallon) cartons! Considering the popularity of freefrom brands, isn’t it worth a trial?!
How does everyone feel about increasing the current carton size of dairy-free milks? Please vote and express your thoughts!
Do any of you currently drink almond milk or any other dairy-free milks? What’s your favourite brand? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences!
Food Standards Agency (FSA): Additives & their E Numbers (1)
NHS Choices (2)
Coeliac (UK) (3)
Vegan Society UK