Plant-based milks are causing a stir with almost a quarter of Britons choosing the vegan alternative.
More people are becoming aware of the environmental and health benefits of choosing vegan milk with 23% of people saying they used plant-based milk at the beginning of 2019, according to research by Mintel.
“This is part of a much wider plant-based movement, driven by concerns around health, ethics and the environment,” said Emma Clifford, Associate Director of UK Food and Drink.
The growing choice of vegan milks is also helping to switch consumer habits, with oat, coconut and almond milks seeing the biggest increase in demand. With many different types and brands of vegan milk available across the UK, it’s never been easier or more affordable to choose vegan.
The environmental and health benefits vary between different plant milks but since all vegan milks are better for animals, the planet and health, consumers can be rest assured they’re choosing the kinder option whichever type they go for.
Young people are driving the change
Young people are driving the fall in demand for dairy with 33% of 16 to 24-year-olds using vegan milk in 2019 and cow’s milk usage dropping 6% this year, according to the report.
They are also the most likely to agree that the dairy industry has a negative impact on the environment and seek an alternative.
This is great news for the planet as the dairy sector causes the highest greenhouse gas emissions in EU food production and the carbon footprint of nuts and beans – the basis for popular plant-milks – is significantly lower than that of dairy.
Demand for cow's milk on a downward trend
“With volume sales of cow’s milk already on a downward trend, the fact that more young consumers are turning away from these products does not bode well for this segment’s prospects in the long-term,” said Clifford.
Reports of farmers struggling to make a living due to a rise in veganism have made headlines this year, but Juliet Gellatley, Viva!’s Founder, points out this could be a new opportunity for farmers.
"We would encourage farmers not to see veganism as a threat but instead as an opportunity. Vegans eat! And as more and more people change there will be plenty of jobs for farmers!
"In fact, some beef and dairy farmers have already moved over to growing crops, are seeing the immediate benefits, and are helping others to make the switch. Just like any other industry, agriculture must grow and adapt to meet the needs of the public."