Titled “Dare Not to Dairy — What the Rise of Dairy-Free Means for Dairy… and How the Industry Can Respond,” the Rabobank dairy industry report revealed that while the plant-based milk market accounts for just three percent of the $600 billion global dairy industry, the sector continues to show rapid growth. In the past five years, the global plant-based milk market has grown by four percent while sales of cow’s milk dropped by 3.5 percent. In order to combat the challenges faced by the failing milk industry, one expert has suggested that companies may want to follow the lead of vegan milk brands.
“Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent for years to come, with demand for non-fluid categories offsetting weak fluid milk sales,” explained Tom Bailey, RaboResearch Senior Analyst – Dairy. “While it’s not essential to diversify into dairy alternatives, it would be wise for the dairy industry to at least learn one thing from the success of dairy alternatives, which may be putting the consumer first and trading in the old grass-to-glass model for glass-to-grass.”
Plant-based milk is not new, but in recent years, the influx of brands and new types of plant-based milk have put the dairy industry on the defense, culminating in an ongoing legal battle sparked by the dairy industry over the right to use the word “milk” on vegan plant milks. The U.S. dairy industry has tried other methods to lure consumers back to traditional cow’s milk with new campaigns such as Undeniably Dairy. Tom Bailey, the Rabobank analyst who wrote the report, told CNBC that vegan milk companies are growing quickly due to successful marketing campaigns that appeal to trends like health and wellness.
Earlier this week, the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) further tried to regain footing by launching Mülü, a rebranded cow’s milk that totes itself as a vitamin and mineral-packed “superdrink”, in an attempt to grow sales by capitalizing on the consumer interest in superfoods. Despite the growing body of evidence against the health benefits of cow’s milk, the DFA implies that cow’s milk is a necessary source of nourishment.
With the global plant-based milk market expected to exceed $34 billion by 2024, consumers can likely expect more milk alternatives on the horizon, including technological advancements in food technology brought forward by cellular agriculture startup Perfect Day, which aims to create dairy products without the cow.