Year after year, dairy farmers have spoken against plant-based milk companies, which make their milk out of oats, almonds, and other nuts, and ‘steal' away profits. However, dairy companies are now beginning to settle their differences and cash in on the booming plant-based industry.
For example, HP Hood, one of the oldest dairy companies in the United States, has recently released a line of plant-based milk called Planet Oat. Organic Valley, another large dairy company, is the distributor for New Barn Organics’ line of almond milk beverages. Ted Robb, chief executive of New Barn Organics, said, “They have a very hard time calling it milk. That really, really bothers them. But they do understand we’re thinking the same way around organic and deeper values. We wouldn’t exist without Organic Valley.”
Dean, another dairy giant, is also active in the plant-based industry, owning nearly 70 percent of the flaxseed milk and yogurt maker Good Karma Foods. “Plant-based becomes a cool opportunity to diversify our portfolio so we can be more relevant to consumers,” said Marissa Jarratt, senior vice president of marketing at Dean Foods. “We want consumers to have options they can choose from.”
But why would dairy companies team up with the supposed enemies that have been stealing their profits? Milk profits are dwindling, that’s why. In fact, Americans are drinking nearly 40 percent less milk than they did in 1975.
On the other hand, plant-based alternatives are performing very well. According to data from Nielsen, plant-based milk sales were up approximately 8 percent since last year. Other categories of alternative plant products are seeing great success as well. There are more plant-based cheese and yogurt brands than ever. In recent news, Beyond Meat's initial public offering raked in a 163% premium, making it the biggest U.S. IPO since at least 2008.
While we may not see dairy disappear entirely in the years to come, we can definitely expect more and more dairy companies to get their hands dirty in the plant-based industry. Or clean, depending on how you look at it.