Updated: Oct 2
Last week I went to a supermarket store to buy some groceries. I was amazed to see the rush over the counter carrying plant milk. Though I never liked them because of their taste: I have heard people uttering their benefits over cow's or goat's milk. It seems hundreds of people still don't know the purpose of consuming them. And they are amongst the target of catchy advertisements. Upon hearing this, you might be shocked, but trust me, I've seen many. From studying hundreds of articles to curating a database on plant-based milk, this article has covered every single point so that you know what's best for you. Let us decide on our milk and not others! In western countries, plant milk has gained popularity. At the close of 2018, New York suffered from a shortage of oat milk. The social media was on fire, and the coffee shops were putting their customers away from them. In 2019, its growth was USD 12 Billion and continuously growing. Have you ever wondered why it is growing? What is the reason behind this increased demand chain? This article will give you deep insights into the plant milk market. I am breaking it into the following components for your reference:
What you will learn!
The Rising Factors Behind The Plant Milk. Historical Importance of Vegan Milks. Market Share Of Plant Milk. Investors Turn On These Markets. The Marketing Fauls To Promote Vegan Milks. Ultimate Perfect Food Of Nature. Is Sustainable Option For Plant Milk a Myth? Nutritional Analysis Over Regular Milk.
The Rising Factors Behind The Plant-Based Milk.
These kinds of milk are the suspension of dissolved plant-based substitutes in water. Further, their making, processing, and fortification are the factors behind their nutritional values. Numerous factors contribute to the growing consumption of plant-based milk. Most people switch to these foods because of lactose intolerance, cow milk allergies, ethical concerns, or vegan diets. Other reasons might be hypercholesterolemia among the consumers, an option for ready-to-drink beverages, innovative advertising.
Table 1. Plant-Based / Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
• Oat milk
• Rice milk
• Soy milk
• Pea milk
• Flax milk
• Hemp milk
• Almond milk
• Cashew milk
• Coconut milk
Table 2. Pros and Cons of Cow’s Milk and Non-Dairy Beverages
Cow’s Milk, 2%
High in protein, calcium and vitamin D
Not suitable for those with allergies or lactose intolerance; higher in saturated fat; may be derived from cattle treated with antibiotics and/or hormones
Highest protein and least processed among plant-based milks
Higher fat than other plant-based milks; sweetened varieties can contain up to 19 g sugar
Low-calorie; high in vitamin E
Best option for those with multiple allergies
Least amount of protein; often manufactured with added sugars
Contains fiber, iron, and a moderate amount of protein
Ingredient list could contain potential allergens
Good source of potassium (490-600 mg per 8 oz. cup of canned milk); contains iron and fiber
Higher fat content than other plant-based milks; low in protein
High in essential fatty acids
Higher fat content than cow’s milk; earthy flavor
Creamy taste and texture
Low-calorie; high in essential fatty acids
High in protein; creamy taste and texture
Not widely available
Fat-free; soy-, nut-, glutenand casein-free
Very low-protein; not widely available; may contain allergenic additives
Table 3. Nutritional Composition of Cow’s Milk and Non-Dairy Beverages per 8 oz. Cup (240 mL)
Historical importance of vegan milks.
Ordinary plant milk like coconut milk, soya milk, almond milk, and rice milk has a historical background. As with coconut milk, it was mostly used to cook curries in Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Oceania due to its rich creaminess and balanced flavor. The soya milk was first used in China in the form of Tofu broth and became prominent as a breakfast Doujiang. Similarly, almond milk comes from the strict fasts followed by the aristocracy, where meat broth was a subset of it. Hence we can not neglect the fact; that our ancestors used this milk for extensive flavors and regional purposes.
The market for plant-based milk.
We must not ignore vegan industry insights when we take a step forward on plant-based milk. For the information, I am attaching the graphs below. According to Rabobank's "Dairy Quarterly Q4 2018" report, milk production is down in the largest milk-producing countries, and it expects to continue through 2019. For the plant-based milk, in the US alone, over 3 Billion in revenue is generated annually by them. The three most popular milk products, in order of sales value, are almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk. Within three months in 2021, almond milk accounted for a sales value of 344 million US dollars. The Global milk market has reached 20.93 Bn USD. Europe and North America have been the leading countries to embrace veganism increasingly. Oatly the Swedish brand of Oat milk has become increasingly popular for flat Caffe and lattes as a choice of lactose-free substitute for cow milk. Not only this, it had seen a 100% growth since 2017, with turnover projected to be £19m in 2018. Now you might be wondering why such a sudden increase? While all its goodness, nutritional value, and cons, the substantial factor that drives its demand are in the lower steps.
Investors turn on these markets.
As the plant-based milk industry hit the storm, even during the pandemic, hence investors turn on them for huge profits. Between 2019 and Q1 2020, vegan companies raised $1.2 Billion. Brand REBBL a California-based maker of coconut-milk-based drinks received $20 million in funding led by CAVU Venture Partners in May 2018. Another firm Ripple Foods raised $65 Million in a Series C capital round in early 2018. NotCo, a plant-based and meatless food company managed to get a $235 million Series D round. According to research by FMI, this market will reach 30.79 USD by the end of 2031. Similarly, it also forecasts the growth of the plant-based milk market by 8.8% CAGR between 2021 and 2031.
The Marketing Fauls To Promote Vegan Milks.
We understand behind any product's success lies in customers and marketing. But why is this section relevant to you? You will know it once you read this. It is the 2nd most crucial part of this article. The first one is still below. Let me introduce some company's slogans for their marketing first.
If you want to change the world, change your milk. (Plenish Drinks 2019).
The subtle sweet and creamy flavor of Alpro Soya will brighten any breakfast. It is not plain it is plain delicious! (Alpro 2019).
When should you use it? Whenever you would use old-school milk from cows—chilled in a glass for cooking or baking—in exactly the same amounts. (Oatly 2019, emphasis in original).
This is THE almond milk YOU DESERVE. (Califia Farms 2019).
When you replace saturated fats with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats found in this hazelnut milk, you can reduce blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, so make the switch for good. (Plentish Drinks Milk Cartons)
We make compassionate food for passionate people. (So Delicious CoconutMilk).
Now let us move on to our main discussion. In the case of plant milk companies, there are a few points that deserve attention since they are part of their marketing.
There are negative framings of dairy, declaring them animal cruelty and environmentally damaging. They call themselves wholesome and convenient, which is positive framing of plant-based milk.
They encourage their customers to shift to plant-based milk for environmental issues, which is basically a promotion of neoliberal ethics. It means they have picked up a cause that is the enviornment and promoting their product as their solution.
The trend of Flexitarian that is caring for the enviornment and shifting to a meatless, dairyless solution is the mere promotion for these companies. It is unethical because they ask their customers to rely on a commodity food.
To counter the problem of global industrial agriculture, AFS used terms like organic, local, and community-supported. These milk companies deploy this care in ways to assist the giant food industry in the future, neglecting the root cause behind it.
They are delivering the solutions without changing much of the underlying scenario. It is called Palatable disruption, which means generating an ethic of care for their business. They are basically making people shift to plant-based milk but still rely on commodity foods.
Green consumerism gives the customers a sense of responsibility to make an environmentally sustainable solutions and buy them. But the truth is even overproduction and overconsumption of them brings no good to enviornment.
One carton of organic milk has cultural framing that triggers emotional registers and compels them to go for that.
The visual experience of the milk carton also creates emotional registers that make consumers exceed rational economic decisions.
They have virtual signaling and broadcasting of positive affirmation feel good as their marketing dupe.
Use of words such as pure white, natural white, radical, etc in their campaigns.
Many firms claim to enhance milk proteins and calcium though it is achieved by the addition of supplements.
Showing the mighty power of plants through words like plant-powered gives a generic image of strength and power.
Some of them show almonds on the carton, hitting the environmental problems like in the Provamel Almond carton box.
Influence on clean eating and Cowspiracy (emission of methane from cow dung causing global warming) are also leading factors.
There were plenty of attractive millennial influencers posting pictures of peanut-milk Thai curries to their Instagram accounts.
Ultimate perfect food of nature.
There is undoubtedly no harm in saying that humans have relied on animal products as a source of calories and healthy fats and proteins for 3000-7000 years. All of us are milk drinkers by birth. Babies' guts produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks milk sugar lactose down into glucose and galactose, the simpler sugars found in breast milk (and cow's milk). It has dietary importance in the human body, and for this reason, it is an original superfood. Albeit for lactose intolerant people, plant-based milk can bring good health but only fresh ones. Since in European states, when people shifted to urban cities and proper pasteurization was not done for milk, they inhibited harmful fatal diseases. These were widespread in the US and UK and finally caught up with the use of non-milk products. Milk is a nutritional food that has almost all the nutrients needed by the human body, so it is widely consumed even in adulthood.
Is a sustainable option for plant-based milk a myth?
Pre-shipment of cow milk produces a carbon footprint of about 1.67 kg, which is more than that of almond milk (360g). You may find it encouraging. A liter of almond milk takes 6,908 liters of water to produce. The farmers do monoculture, which is harmful to biodiversity and the soil. Do you still think of a sustainable option? Consumers have even caught Silk and Alpro almond milk companies because all they have is only 2% of almonds in them. In June 2017, a Belgian couple was convicted of feeding their baby quinoa milk and oat milk instead of infant formula, leading to his death.
Nutritional analysis over regular milk.
It is the most dominant factor in choosing the correct milk for you to consider. We have already learned the pros and cons of vegan milk and dairy milk above. The nutritional value in each carton of organic milk depends on the digestibility and absorbability of your body. Fortified foods may not always contain nutrients that can be readily absorbed by the body. Vitamin B12, a crucial vitamin, is mainly found in dairy products. Deficiencies in this vitamin can have serious consequences. This vegan plant milk also has added sugars and artificial stabilizers, and thickening agents that are not right for your body.
Sometimes it is better to go out of the race and choose what fits your body. If you have no lactose intolerance then cow milk or goat milk is the best form of milk you can give to your body. On shifting to plant milk, you can only rely on the fresh homemade ones and not on a commercial commodity. While consuming vegan milk, it is essential to combine all the macronutrients and vitamins from another source of eating. What I prefer is somedays I can have muesli with cow milk, and maybe someday I can have coconut milk in my rich curries, and protein shakes. Use Smartly instead of getting manipulated by Brands!