Trying to Recapture the “Milk” Label from Plant-Based Alternatives

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As US milk prices slide, the industry has begun a desperate push to recapture the term “milk” from plant-based alternatives. A bipartisan group of 32 members of Congress have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce a narrow definition of the terms “milk”, “cheese”, and “yogurt”. The FDA defines milk as the “lacteal secretion” obtained by milking “one or more healthy cows”. While Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Tammy Baldwin have proposed a broader definition for milk, it would still exclude non-animal products as they are not from “hooved mammals”.

The increasing popularity of plant-based alternatives has probably irreparably blurred the category’s market definition. Between 2012-2017, plant-based milk alternatives have grown by an astonishing 61 percent, with annual sales soaring to $2.11 billion. In the US, milk consumption has fallen by 37 percent since the 1970s, and milk sales fell by 20 percent from 2011 to 2017. It remains to be seen whether the common vernacular of “almond milk” or “soy milk” will persist despite impending FDA definition enforcement. As the dairy industry fights to regain its place in America’s shopping cart, Gro Intelligence provides its subscribers with necessary data and analytics to stay ahead of the dairy markets.

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