October 15, 2018

Some Consumers Think Nut Milk Contains Dairy

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Cow milk contains dairy products and plant-based beverages don’t. Sounds simple, right?

For some consumers, there’s confusion about that.

A survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted in August by Lincoln Park Strategies for the International Food Information Council says that as many as 9% of consumers think plant-based beverages contain cow’s milk. Granted, that number is low, but what is more concerning is that 20% of consumers are unsure which products contain cow’s milk when asked to choose among plant-based beverages and real milk. Between 70 and 75% of respondents got it right. 

Think that is concerning? Just wait, there’s more.

In the same study, supported by Danone North America PBC and reported on, a significant minority of consumers were unsure if dairy milk products contained cow’s milk, or believed that they didn’t. The real kicker – more than half of respondents weren’t sure if lactose free milk actually contained cow’s milk, or they believed that it didn’t.

As the article states, the survey validates that if you ask consumers a question about what is contained in any product, you can immediately plant doubt in their minds.

According to Chris Galen, a spokesperson for the National Milk Producers Federation, the survey failed to ask one important question: the nutritional merit of plant-based versus dairy beverages.

“This survey does nothing to address the underlying concern we have expressed and, more importantly, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised, about whether consumers understand the nutritional inconsistencies between real milk and the imitators, and how the plant foods are frequently deficient in many nutrients offered by milk,” Galen says.

FDA wants to understand just how much confusion is in the consumer marketplace, and has opened up a comment period for folks to offer their understanding of dairy products and their plant-based alternatives.

“We’re interested to know if consumers are aware of, and understand, the nutritional characteristics and differences among these products [plant based dairy alternatives], and between these products and dairy, when they make dietary choices for themselves and their families,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement on the topic. 

If you would like to offer your comment on the subject, click here.