- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposes draft guidelines to extend the term ‘milk’ to include plant-based alternatives such as oats, almonds, and soy. This raises no confusion among consumers as long as the plant source is distinctly specified in the product’s label.
- The FDA encourages manufacturers to provide additional nutritional information voluntarily if their plant-based milk lacks certain nutrients in comparison to traditional dairy milk, like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
- There are diverse responses to the new rulings from different industry bodies. National Milk Producers Federation supports the request for additional nutritional information, but opposes the extended use of the term ‘milk’. The Good Food Institute discourages direct comparisons of plant-based and dairy milks.
- In terms of market dominance, cow’s milk still leads with $12.3 billion annual sales compared to $2.5 billion for non-dairy milk. However, almond milk is the most popular plant-based milk with oat milk gaining fast popularity.
The terminology ‘milk’ could extend to include plant-based alternatives made from oats, almonds, soy, cashews, etc – not only dairy products, under new draft guidelines proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Milk, the Vegan Way
The FDA has clarified that these plant-derived beverages are not masquerading as cow products. According to them, the use of ‘milk’ in the product’s name does not leave consumers baffled. However, manufacturers will need to distinctly specify the plant source in their labeling. An illustration would be ‘soy milk’.
Additional Nutritional Labeling
In addition to this, the FDA is encouraging manufacturers to voluntarily provide surplus nutritional labeling if their product lacks in certain nutrients in comparison to traditional dairy milk. These nutrients include – but are not limited to – calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
Stirring the Industry
As expected, the proposed ruling ignited diverse responses. While the National Milk Producers Federation backed the request for supplementary nutritional information, they rebuffed the FDA’s characterization of ‘milk’ as a common and usual term. On other hand, the Good Food Institute, a strong supporter of plant-based goods, opines that the advice discourages companies from making a direct correlation with dairy milk.
Irrespective of their stance, fortified soy milk remains the only plant-based alternative to align with national dietary guidelines for dairy products. Plus, plant-based milks show crucial nutritional components on their labels.
Plant-Based vs. Dairy
Despite the boom in plant-based milk, cow’s milk still dominates the market. Over the course of a year, sales of refrigerated cow’s milk reached a high of $12.3 billion, whereas non-dairy milk generated a revenue of $2.5 billion, as shown by NielsenIQ data.
Among the various plant milk substitutes, almond milk takes the lead in popularity, with oat milk rapidly gaining momentum.
For more information regarding the trend between cow’s milk and plant-based milks, you may visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.