Do Consumers Know Where Almond Milk Comes From?

Sounds like a silly question but the word milk is commonly associated with cows, like cow’s milk. And herein lies the confusion.

When grocery shoppers are out and about trying to meet their grocery list, they are faced with more choices than ever. Groceries now have a variety of milk to choose from, like plant-based milk alternatives, 1% cow’s milk to whole cow’s milk or even goat milk. This huge selection can be confusing to buyers, and thus the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) put up a poll to see if buyers want their plant-based food labeled using dairy terms.

The Results

There were over 7,000 respondents to the poll and almost 75% of them communicated that they do want the plant-based substitutes to be labeled in traditional dairy terms so that it is easier for them to compare and contrast.

In an earlier version of the poll, the data showed that 40% of households in the US do consume and buy both plant-based milk and dairy-based milk. Those people who drink only cow’s milk, 78% of them chose to use the word milk when describing the plant-based version. However, others who do not consume cow’s milk preferred a more descriptive term when it comes to labeling these plant-based milk alternatives. They preferred to use words like non-dairy or dairy-free compared to milk substitute or milk alternative.

Voluntary Standards for Labeling Plant-Based Dairy

And from these polls grew the voluntary standards for labeling plant-based dairy products. It helped companies to name their products using the plant ingredient used as a base. For instance, soy milk comes from soy products; almond milk comes from almonds; coconut milk comes from coconuts, and so on.

The voluntary standards also recommend companies to use labels that include non-dairy, dairy-free, or plant-based milk. However, in current times, the more significant trend tended to take on the plant’s name like soymilk, almond milk, and the likes. But if you read further, it will contain the phrases dairy-free or its alternative in smaller font.

Some people in the plant-based community are not satisfied with the current label trends because they believe that all milk should be accurately labeled like milk from cows should be cow’s milk or milk from goats should be labeled as goat milk. This is what they deem as descriptive and accurate labeling.

The Future of Labeling Almond Milk and Other Plant-Based Milk

Traditional dairy is declining while on the other hand, plant-based dairy continues to gain traction. 2,700 dairies in the US closed last year, and the whole dairy industry lost more than a billion dollars’ worth of sales. The slowing demand brought dairy prices down and consequently, its overall sales.

Between the years of 2012 and 2017, plant-based milk grew in leaps and bounds. Although data has shown that buyers are not confused about where their bought milk come from, lawmakers have proposed the Dairy PRIDE act which bars companies from using dairy-related words to their plant-based alternatives.

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