Under pressure from the dairy industry, the government is trying make it so that plant-based alternatives to dairy can’t use the terms “milk”, “butter” or “cheese” on their product labels. The excuse is that the consumer can’t tell the difference between dairy milk and soy milk, and so may be confused. It doesn’t take a PhD to know that almonds, coconuts, rice and cashews don’t come from a cow! Read more
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Plant-powered dairy alternatives have been growing fast worldwide. Sales have more than doubled in the last 8 years and there’s no end in sight. The growing availability and promotion of plant-based options to traditional dairy lines, particularly beverages, has helped boost this market, along with cultured products such as yogurt, frozen desserts and ice cream, creamers, and cheese. Almost all mainstream supermarkets now have some dairy-free alternatives.
A range of increasingly sophisticated flavors and blends of non-dairy milks from different sources are being launched. While soy-based beverage products remain popular, the market has expanded to include an increasing selection of alternative milks, using grains such as rice, quinoa, oats, and barley; and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamias, as well as seed milks such as hemp and flaxseed. In just the past year two new primary ingredients for U.S. plant-based milks, pistachio and pecan, have emerged.
Seeing the success of these products, the dairy industry is getting nervous. In fact, the dairy sector has become so concerned about the success of plant-based milks that it recently prompted 32 Congressmen to write a letter to FDA. The letter, which requests the agency enforce their rule against non-dairy beverages carrying the term “milk,” was meant to prevent the dairy industry from losing further market share to plant-based alternatives. However, they tried this tactic with mayonnaise and it didn’t work then. We don’t think it will work this time either.
Try out some of the many new plant-based milks available in your grocery store. For tips on buying dairy alternatives check out our shopping guide In Pursuit of Great Food.