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Dairy Alternative Market Growth Led by Almond Milk

Fake milk 'study' lacks key ingredients

National Milk Producers Federation calls report by Plant Based Foods Assn. flawed and inaccurate.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) corrected the record May 6 on information it said was intentionally muddied by the Plant Based Foods Assn. (PBFA) in conjunction with Linkage Research & Consulting.

NMPF believes the research firm presented a flawed analysis as legitimate research in order to grab inaccurate headlines.

Linkage’s "study" of comments filed in a Food & Drug Administration docket that concluded in January purports to show that consumers would prefer to see that dairy terms remain on non-dairy beverages and other products. FDA solicited comments because, according to the agency, it “has concerns that the labeling of some plant-based products, which can vary widely in their nutritional content, is leading consumers to believe that those products have the same key nutritional attributes as dairy products.”

As has been the case throughout the current labeling debate, however, the marketers of fake milk continue to mischaracterize what FDA has been considering, trying to turn a serious discussion of consumer transparency and nutritional inferiority into a red-herring debate over whether consumers think almonds are a dairy product – in this case, by presenting an incomplete and selective review of comments to FDA as authoritative, NMPF said.

“None of the fake foods stealing dairy terms contain the same nutrition as the milk or dairy product they attempt to imitate,” NMPF president and chief executive officer Jim Mulhern said. “The vegan and animal rights activists who were encouraged by our opponents in this debate to flood the docket with comments understand that these fake products don’t contain milk, but that’s never been the issue. Research clearly shows that consumers don’t understand the nutritional differences between real, natural dairy products and the inferior, imitation products masquerading as milk.”

In contrast to the cherry-picked data from PBFA, Mulhern pointed to actual public opinion research conducted by Ipsos, a survey firm that has conducted scientifically valid research on the topic. That poll found:

  • 77% of buyers of dairy and plant-based beverages think almond-based drinks have as much protein as or more protein than dairy, when, in fact, real milk has up to eight times more protein;
  • 78% think plant-based drinks have at least as many vitamins and minerals as dairy, and
  • 68% think such beverages have at least as many “key nutrients” like calcium and potassium, which they do not.

“It’s understandable why the fake milk crowd would rely on fake facts; the actual ones aren’t on their side, but that doesn’t excuse their adulterating a debate taken seriously by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the School Nutrition Assn. and others who have thoughtfully explained why labeling transparency is a public good,” Mulhern said.

NMPF believes it has outlined a constructive path forward to resolve the labeling issue. In February, it filed a citizen petition with FDA outlining a labeling solution that reinforces and clarifies current FDA labeling regulations.

Meanwhile, NMPF said FDA's inaction is encouraging continued chaos in the marketplace -- one that’s engulfing not just milk but other dairy products as well. Fighting fake dairy is high on the agenda at the American Butter Institute’s annual conference, which is being held this week in Chicago, Ill.

NMPF develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and their cooperatives. NMPF members produce the majority of U.S. milk, making it the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.

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