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Got milk? Depends on your definition

  • Opinion
  • March 2, 2017
  • Courtney Devereux
Got milk? Depends on your definition

A lobby group for the Australian dairy industry is unhappy with the rise of plant-based milk products, claiming the use of the word 'milk' is confusing for customers and trades on the dairy product's good name. So who's in the right? And will it impact on the New Zealand industy? 

Just in case you think you’ve heard the grossest milk-related sentence, think again. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand defines the word milk as "the mammary secretion of milking animals". But other definitions include plant-based milks, with Webster’s saying it can also be ‘a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow's milk'. 

According to a lobby group for Australian farmers, Dairy Connect, there is a call for ‘truth in labelling crackdown’ on the way the word ‘milk’ is used by manufacturers of plant-based milk products, which can include soy, almond, cashew, coconut, rice and sesame. 

This reliance on an industry-only definition of the word makes it a curly decision for Food Standards New Zealand, however James Crow, co founder of Little Island Coconut Creamery, says avoiding consumer confusion should be paramount.

“If anything, the growing concerns around dairy farming’s connection with declining water quality, climate change and bobby cows makes the out-dated market definition of ‘milk’ a risky one to use. However, it works best for shoppers and they are who we’re there to serve, not any lobby group or competitors,” says Crow.

Dairy Connect has stated that soy milk and almond milk are among the top culprits of customer confusion. 

Plant based milks can include: Soy, almond, cashew, coconut, rice and sesame.

It’s easy to get protective over an industry that has faced a drop in sales already. In just the past two years, the National Business Review says New Zealand dairy revenue has plummeted down 29 percent from a high of 35 percent in 2016, due to overproduction of milk combined with rapidly declining demand. Compare that to almond milk, which has grown by 250 percent in the past five years in the US, with the dairy alternative milk category grossing $1 billion in sales. Almond milk alone brought in more than $894 million in sales in 2015 and the second largest, and fastest growing plant-based milk is coconut (Little Island Creamery was placed 27th at last year’s Deloitte’s Fast 50 with 305 percent growth). 

According to global lactose intolerant statistics, in New Zealand 33 percent of adults over the age of 20 consider themselves to be lactose intolerant. And more so recently there have been several websites dedicated to alerting people to the bad side of milk.

In September 2016, Fonterra said New Zealand milk collection dropped 2 percent while in Australia it was down 9 percent. Season to date figures indicate a 2.9 percent drop in milk production compared to last year, with a 4.9 percent decline in the North Island, and a 13 percent drop in Australia.

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Better Burger engineers edible packaging

  • Design
  • April 23, 2018
  • Elly Strang
Better Burger engineers edible packaging

The circular economy is a hot concept these days, so what better way to embrace this concept than to make food packaging edible, too? Better Burger is served up burgers this Sunday (aka Earth Day) in one-off packaging made from wafer paper and edible ink.

Read more
 
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Icebreaker steps into sharky waters for latest ad

  • News
  • April 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Icebreaker steps into sharky waters for latest ad

Icebreaker has released ‘Shark Scientist’, the first of three ads for its latest 'Human Nature' campaign with Motion Sickness. The two-minute spot focuses on marine biologist and shark enthusiast Riley Elliott.

Read more
 
 

Why minimum wage rises matter

  • Opinion
  • April 20, 2018
  • Rachel Helyer Donaldson
Why minimum wage rises matter

After writing a feature for NZ Retail magazine on recent and upcoming changes to employment law, freelance writer Rachel Helyer Donaldson was struck by the ideological distance between the retailers and retail staff she spoke with.

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Online/offline: Where is the bottom line?

  • Opinion
  • April 20, 2018
  • John Long
Online/offline: Where is the bottom line?

Whether he is pitching a new store design concept to a retailer, or forecasting retail floor space demand in a council hearing, John Long reports his sense of a very dynamic, almost chaotic, future for retail is pervasive.

Read more
 
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