The rise of the "plant-based milk" category has been surprising. First it was soy milk. Now it's almond milk. And there are plenty of other botanically-derived milk-substitutes vying for market share as more consumers seek alternatives to dairy products. Not surprisingly, however, is the response to this encroachment by the milk producers who have been complaining that this plant-based stuff is not actually "milk". Do they have a point?
The Food and Drug Administration, the federal regulatory agency tasked with deciding such matters,
believes that they do indeed have a point. In fact, the agency announced that it will move to crack down on the use of the term "milk" for non-dairy products. Is this fair?
Milk is defined as being derived from lactating animals, and while this doesn't sound like much of a competitive advantage, it is still an important distinction. Milk producers don't want almond growers and others of their ilk to borrow the equity that milk producers have built over the years. "Got Milk", a cooperative effort on the part of many dairy producers, has been a resounding albeit expensive advertising success over two plus decades.
And so it looks like the "plant-milk" producers are going to have to come up with a unique term to define the product sector. The FDA will take a year or two to make things happen on a regulatory front, and so marketers have some time to figure things out. It would be smart of they did so cooperatively, working to decide on nomenclature that truly defines their sector, but this may be too much to hope for.
Discussion: What are your ideas as to how to name the plant-based "milk sector?
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