Bolivia to Start Up World's First Quinoa Milk Plant


LA PAZ – Bolivia will bring online the world's first quinoa milk plant on Nov. 20, a factory largely funded by the European Union that will produce three flavors of this beverage.

"It's the world's only quinoa milk plant to date, Oscar Alcaraz, director of the Pro Bolivia management body, the project's promoter, told Efe.

The plant, located in Uyuni, a town in the Andean province of Potosi, will have a production capacity of around 250 liters (66 gallons) per day of quinoa milk and 3,500 liters (925 gallons) per month, said David Soraide, a technician with the Fautapo foundation that also helped fund the project.

The project required an investment outlay of nearly $162,000, with Pro Bolivia covering 80 percent of the total with funds from the European Union and the Fautapo foundation accounting for the rest.

The milk will be produced with a Bolivian variety of the grain known as royal quinoa, which is rich in protein and is only grown in the Andean nation's Southern Altiplano, near the world-famous Uyuni salt flats.

The new product will be available in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Production of quinoa milk initially will be allocated for school breakfasts in nearby communities benefiting some 5,000 children, the initiative's organizers say.

Quinoa milk contains protein and vitamins D and E but, unlike animal-based milk, has no lactose or cholesterol, Alcaraz said.

This variety of quinoa "helps combat osteoporosis and breast cancer, and assists in memory retention because of its amino acids," the Pro Bolivia director said.

No mass domestic market exists for the product, according to Alcaraz, although he said he is confident quinoa milk will allow Bolivians to enjoy the nutritional qualities of this grain.

Bolivia produced 61,182 tons of quinoa in 2013, 56 percent of it for export, according to the private Bolivia Foreign Trade Institute.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2013 the international year of quinoa in recognition of the ancestral practices of the Andean people and the valuable nutritional properties of this age-old "golden grain."