The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports….
A former celebrity chef turned entrepreneur has seen immediate success in bottling and selling fresh hemp milk in Western Australia, providing inspiration to investigate the pasteurisation of a long-life product.
Liam O’Neil has catered for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Madonna, Prince, Sir Paul McCartney and Elton John.
Upon returning to Perth, he decided to focus on producing fresh local juices, chilled beverages and the popular hemp milk at his East Victoria Park warehouse.
Initially, Mr O’Neil admits there was some community resistance to the hemp milk idea.
“When we started we were one of the only [hemp] products out there, so there was a lot of online hate mail, people saying it’s the devil’s juice,” he said.
He describes the taste of hemp milk as being like soy milk, but with “a hint of green cucumber and pumpkin seed”.
“You can use it in your coffee, on cereal, in smoothies and milkshakes. Friends of mine even made a béchamel sauce with it,” Mr O’Neil said.
Fresh hemp milk, bottled in Liam O’Neil’s Perth warehouse for distribution across the state. (ABC Rural: Lucie Bell)
In recent months, consumer interest has grown to such a level that he is now investigating pasteurisation technology to prolong the product’s shelf life.
“There is a very high demand on the east coast and we’re looking at producing out of Sydney as well,” he said.
“With only eight days’ shelf life it doesn’t travel very far, so at the moment we can only service WA.”
According to Mr O’Neil, high pressure pasteurisation would increase his hemp milk’s shelf life to between four and five weeks.
“That would mean we could comfortably get the milk from coast to coast, to New Zealand, to Tasmania and to rural areas of Australia,” he said.