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Earlier this month leaders in the Dairy industry gathered in Chicago for their annual conference to discuss business challenges and set future plans.

Conference attendees included various decision makers, manufacturing bodies and marketers, including American Dairy Products Institute and the American Butter Institute. Interestingly, one of the business challenges they touched upon was the rising popularity of plant-based milks.

“I think the threat is very serious”, says CEO of Select Milk Producers, Mike McCloskey – “many people have stolen the identity of milk over the years.”

McCloskey goes on to (seemingly) refer back to last year’s legislative fiasco where members of congress sent a letter to the FDA outlining concerns that plant-based milks are misrepresenting themselves as “milk”, claiming that it is “misleading” and in “violation of milk’s standard of identity”.  The letter proposed the “Dairy Pride Act” (a piece of legislation with the aim to make the word “milk” unlawful for use on plant-based products.

With a reaction like this, one would think that the dairy industry is fearful of their new competition. And perhaps they should be?

Research shows that Millennials in particular are choosing to move away from dairy products and according to Euromonitor, “Worldwide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled between 2009 and 2015 to $21bn”.

The CEO and Co-President of Associated Milk Producers, Sheryl Meshke also spoke at the conference, claiming that “the solution to fixing the dairy industry is to “be more relevant to the Millennial consumer.”

But how can the Dairy industry believe this is possible when the very nature of their industry is environmentally damaging and associated with a multitude of health problems? Not to mention exposé footage and documentaries revealing the truths behind some of the cruel, standard practices.

It appears that these industry honchos are failing to understand why people are turning their backs on dairy, whilst their plant based counterpart goes from strength to strength.

Perhaps they should draw their business inspiration from “Elmhurst Milked” – a 92 year old New York Dairy Farm which recently switched to producing dairy-free alternatives made from almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews.

Elmhurst’s CEO Henry Schwartz said to Business Insider “it was time to embrace a new model and look toward the future”, and we couldn’t agree more.

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Jodi Monelle Founder & CEO, LIVEKINDLY | jodi@livekindly.com

LIVEKINDLY was born out of Jodi's passion to bring inspiring vegan stories mainstream along with her expertise in media publishing and time spent with the BBC. Running the largest plant-based digital platform on the web has made her a sought-after expert leading the conversation about media's role in making the world a healthier and more compassionate place for all.