The Rise in Demand of Plant-based Milk Alternatives

Food choices among the growing vegan population suggest that eating is no longer solely about the nutritional label of the food or product but personal and group preferences. Even though vegans are making food choices for health reasons, environmental and animal health ethics are taking center stage. Any business that is not bringing this discussion to board meetings is missing a key success strategy.

Most of us grew up drinking a glass of milk in the morning and a glass before bed. It was commonplace that milk delivered the calcium and other vitamins necessary for good growth. What’s more, we never checked the label to see if the milk was animal or plant-based, milk was a cow product. Today, you need to read labels to make sure your milk pack has your label of preference. It’s either dairy or plant-based!  Milk with the ‘plant-based’ label seems to count more and more picks from the grocery shelves.

Why the cow is losing to almond

Cow milk has high levels of calcium, protein, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Despite this, people are quoting health reasons for choosing plant-based milk alternatives that provide flavor alongside protein and a choice of organic ingredients preferred to them.

Even though cow milk does not require the complex industrial processes that yield plant-derived milk alternatives, the inhuman treatment of animals and the environmental hazards resulting from animal breeding are quoted as ethical grounds for abandoning dairy products.

What is the scenario like?

The percentage of people abandoning the cow product for soy, almond, coconut, oat, rice, and other plant-derived milk and milk products is rising rapidly. In Britain, for example, 23% of participants involved in research by Mintel in February 2019, acknowledged that they had consumed plant-based milk alternatives in the three months preceding the research. If this was a trend only among the older folks, we would imagine that it will die soon. But that’s not the case. Mintel’s research suggests that younger consumers between ages 16 and 24 are abandoning dairy products for plant-based milk: 97% of Brits in this age bracket consumed cow milk in 2018 and the figure dropped to 93% by the time of Mintel’s research.

The scenario is similar in the US. Think of the release and increasing demand for Planet Oat Milk by HP Hood, one of the oldest American dairy companies. According to a report by the Dairy Farmers of America, the total sales of milk in 2018 dropped by around $1.1 billion. The sales for the competitor plant-based milk shot up by 9% in the same year bringing in in $1.6 billion, as reported by the Plant-based Foods Association.


The demand-curve for plant-based milk will not descend but will keep ascending. Some dairy industries are already adopting the idea that cow milk will only survive alongside plant-based milk alternatives, hence compensating the decrease in dairy sales with the production and sale of plant-based milk. The cow must cede monopoly and make business deals with the nuts and grains. 

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