The ongoing disruption and general uncertainty caused by coronavirus may have an adverse impact on production of so-called ‘milks’ manufactured from plants.
Dairy Connect president Graham Forbes said non-dairy liquids marketed nationally as ‘milks’ include soy, cashew, almond, oat, hemp, rice and coconut extracts, to name but a few.
Graham Forbes said the coronavirus disruption provided an opportunity for dairy milk marketers to recapture market share for the naturally fresh nutritious product.
He described plant-based drinks as being extruded from crushed nuts with added water and fortified by vitamins and minerals artificially added from external sources.
“There is no question that the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that are an integral part of the dairy milk offering were the essence of natural nutrition, particularly during times such as now,” Mr Forbes said.
Dairy Connect chief executive Shaughn Morgan said Dairy Connect fired the first shots against plant-sourced liquids sold to consumers as ‘milks’ in January 2017.
“We called on consumer and agriculture ministers nationally to ensure a uniform standard for labelling that would preclude plant drinks from being described as ‘milk’ and thus restore ‘truth in labelling’,” Mr Morgan said.
“It is time for the State and Federal Governments to deliver what has been promised and ensure ‘truth in labelling’ and protect the iconic term ‘milk’.
“These plant products are hijacking the look and feel of dairy, while claiming to have the nutritional values of fresh and nutritious cows’ milk.”
Dairy Connect believes the coronavirus disruption is an opportunity for dairy milk marketers to strengthen relationships along the supply chain from processors, distributors and retailers to dairy consumers.
Mr Morgan said dairy milk contained higher levels of protein and a far greater range of vitamins and minerals than plant-based drinks.
“Children need sufficient levels of protein and energy for normal growth and development,” he said.
If liquids like almond or rice extracts are a regular part of a young child’s diet, other food sources of protein and energy are needed to replace that otherwise provided by milk.
Mr Morgan said some plant products contained protein, but the quality was not comparable to animal protein as they did not contain all the essential amino acids.
“Fresh liquid milk is a premium quality, short shelf life food of immense nutritional value.
“Milk contains eight nutrients essential to human health and putting fresh dairy on the table at mealtimes can play an important role in healthy eating and wellbeing.”
Mr Morgan said these included B vitamins for energy, vitamin A to help maintain a healthy immune system and calcium which helped build and maintain bone strength.
“They also deliver minerals such as iodine, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus,” he said.
“In addition to the unique nutrient content in dairy, evidence is showing that there is a synergistic effect that demonstrates their health benefits.”