Plant Milks Keep Growing

What is your favorite milk drink? And, no, we don’t mean do you prefer skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk. Because today there are more “milks” available to consumers than just dairy milks.

There are numerous plant-based milks available made from various nuts, seeds, grains, and even vegetables. But the latest is one you might not be familiar with on your morning cereal – it’s a plant milk made from – wait for it – potatoes! The new potato milk is made by Swedish company Dug Drinks and is already being sold in Great Britain with distribution in the U.S. planned later this year.

Dug is far from alone as a non-dairy milk on the shelves and in coffee shops. With a growth in health-conscious diets such as vegan and non-animal food fare, the market has seen a proliferation in food and drink plant-based substitutes made from oats, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, and more. Plant-based foods are trending up as consumers gain interest in sustainability, health, and ethical practices. And of course the pandemic’s impact on supply chain also pushed people to try different products when their old reliable products were not easily available.

“Milk” drinks alone are a large category of products. Sales of plant-based milks in the U.S. were an estimated $2.5 billion at the end of the year, accounting for 15% of all retail milk sales and 35% of all plant-based foods. Repeat sales of the beverages averages 75% for a high level of retention. And, plant-based milk is one of the most developed plant-based food categories and is consistently shelved next to dairy milk.

Most plant-based milks are made the same way; the main ingredient is soaked in water, then pressed or blended into a puree. This is then filtered to remove particles, and additional ingredients may  be added to gain better texture and flavor.

However, the drinks also carry a political weight; the dairy industry had been petitioning the U.S. Food and Drink Administration to prohibit the  term “milk” label for all non-dairy products. And many drinks made from nuts can have adverse environmental impacts, particularly when water is scarce in communities. But, the category is quite innovative and keeps growing to offer additional plant-based drinks and foods.

Now that you know some of the options, what is your favorite milk?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Poll students: What are reasons for people to consume plant-based foods?
  3. Show a brief video about the rise of plant milk: https://youtu.be/yoAeuJlt7qo
  4. Have students use laptops to review various plant-based milk drinks.
  5. Oatly oat milk: https://www.oatly.com/en-us
  6. Dug potato milk: https://dugdrinks.com/
  7. Silk almond milk: https://silk.com/
  8. Ripple plant milk: https://www.ripplefoods.com/
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for a plant-based drink. What are the two axis labels they will use?
  10. What happens if the axis labels change?

Source:  Petersen, V. (28 February 2022). Have we reached peak plant milk? Not even close. New York Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Leave a Reply