apiSoy is founded on the belief that people who are lactose intolerant or new converts to plant-based diets, should not have to miss out on the dairy foods they once enjoyed. Instead, it is possible to still enjoy their yoghurts, ice-creams, cheeses and milks, if these foods are dairy-free, plant-based, and delicious to eat. So began the journey for Marguerite Ton to develop plant-based, creamy, dairy substitutes for her daughter, who was medically diagnosed as lactose intolerant during her teenage years.
“We find there are not many options when we head out to the shops, and that some existing dairy alternatives are high in saturated fats or have weird additives”, says Marguerite.
Marguerite migrated to Australia as a young child during the 1970s with her mother and siblings, after the communist insurgency in South Vietnam. Growing up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, she revelled in the vast natural spaces freckled with spotted gums and the smells of peeling bark and eucalyptus leaves. The landscape motivated her to imagine, explore and play in alternative worlds with her siblings. Graduating from Monash University in Economics, she quickly commenced her career in the fields of currency trading, stock broking and finance in Singapore and Australia. After working for 23 years, she decided to take a break to study visual art, which sparked her connection back to those early exploratory yearnings. And since then, she has never looked back.
“On reflection, my art and finance experience has probably been the ideal preparation for what is to come”, she says.
The budding entrepreneur made her way to Rocket Seeder after developing a lactose-free, dairy-free, sweetened condensed soy milk, and a soy-based yoghurt containing the health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics.
According to Marguerite, the increasing rate of lactose intolerance across Australia and various parts of the world, coupled with rising awareness of health, ethical and environmental impacts, is resulting in a significant growth in demand for dairy alternatives.
“HapiSoy Sweetened Condensed Soy Milk gives people who are lactose intolerant a creamy ingredient to use in their beverages, desserts and baked goods”, says Marguerite. “Our products use whole ingredients and are made here, from Australian grown, non-GM soybeans.”
“Some people have been surprised how the taste of our HapiSoy sweetened condensed soy milk and soy yoghurt takes them back to their childhood of drinking home-made soy milk.”
Marguerite says that she wants to make the most of the opportunity to participate in the Rocket Seeder program.
“It has been invaluable,” Marguerite says. “This is especially true in terms of the mentoring I’ve received and the support of other entrepreneurs. I’ve learned so much”.
Overall, Marguerite is determined to help people who are lactose intolerant, including people who are considering opting out of dairy, by offering them greater alternatives.
“My daughter now enjoys a HapiSoy yoghurt as a healthy treat at the end of her day. Therefore, there is the potential for many more people to benefit from HapiSoy yoghurt and sweetened condensed soy milk too.”