If you can't beat 'em...join 'em! A saying we've all heard or said at some point in our lives, often after we've realized that we cannot defeat someone or be as successful as they are.
Is it time for the fluid milk market to say this to alternative beverages? Yes.
Now don't dismiss me yet, take a moment to read why I think so. I still believe 100 percent that alternative beverages should not be allowed to use our name. Milk comes from a cow and is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals that other "milks" can't match. Still, they are beating us in the marketing game and we must catch-up in order to stay competitive in the future.
Recently the Good Food Institute (GFI) and Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) published a report showing that this flourishing market reached $4.5 billion in sales last year. If we can tap into the alternative market and introduce fluid milk into new plant-based products, then that's more milk consumed and more money in your check.
Plant-based "milk" is the most developed of all plant-based categories, according to the GFI report. Sales of plant-based foods are growing significantly, while dollar sales of conventional animal foods are declining or growing only modestly. Over the past year, sales of conventional milk and conventional yogurt have both decreased by 3%.
Live Real Farms, a brand owned by Dairy Farmers of America, recently rolled out the first fresh milk blended beverage in the marketplace called Live Real Farms Dairy Plus Milk Blends. Using a unique blending process, the product combines the flavor of almonds or oats with the protein of dairy. This product will appeal to consumers that want to keep milk in their diets and add a plant-based product as well.
Folks, this plant-based trend is here to stay!!! Processors like Danone, Nestle and Dean Foods are also investing heavily in the future of plant-based products.
I've read several negative Facebook posts recently from farmers and industry counterparts rejecting this new product from DFA. I realize it's threatening to open the door and welcome plant-based products into our dairy world, but our industry stresses the need for fluid milk innovation and this product is an exciting example of innovation for milk!
The Southeast milk market is suffering, and I am saddened by the loss of so many good dairy farm families. Let's support efforts by our industry leaders to innovate and develop fluid milk products and partnerships in the future. We are a small group with a mighty market; so let's show the U.S. how diverse our product can be!!