Girl pouring glass of milk.
February 7, 2017

Soybean Growers Push Back Against Soymilk Labeling Restrictions

Top Story  |   |  By: Jim Dickrell

The American Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Association pushed back against proposed labeling to restrict the marketing of soymilk.

The Dairy Pride Act, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.), would prohibit the term “milk” from being used with soymilk or soymilk-based products. The premise of the Act is that use of the term “milk” misleads consumers. An identical bill was introduced to the House of Representatives last week.

“This legislation is unnecessary as no confusion in the market exists,” argues ASA President Ron Moore and SANA President Wendy Behr in the letter to Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee members.

Moore and Behr note that the term “soymilk” has been in commercial use since 1947. “Consumers of soymilk clearly understand that the product is derived from soybeans rather than bovine milk, and a large percentage consume it for just that reason due to dietary choices or restrictions.”

A separate letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent by SANA last week, in which the organization concluded that use of the name "soymilk" complies with FDA regulations on common or usual names, and noted that soymilk has been included in USDA materials dating back to 1963.

National Milk Producers Federation CEO and President Jim Mulhern makes this counter claim: “For too long, the FDA has turned a blind eye to the misbranding of imitation dairy products, despite the decades-old federal law that milk comes from animals, not vegetables or nuts.

“Real milk has been recognized for decades for its important nutritional benefits. These imposter products almost always use dairy imagery, similar packaging and names – but they never match the nutritional benefits found in milk.”

Finding those nutritional differences aren't always easy for consumers. Admittedly, soy "milk" comes closest to cow's milk, having similar levels of calories and protein (depending on the fat level of cow's milk), and can exceed cow's milk in some areas such as Vitamin B-12. But consumers might be surprised to learn low-fat cow's milk has 40% less fat than soymilk. 

Other nut beverages, such as almond, coconut and rice, have far less protein per 8 oz. serving than cow's milk. Cow's milk contains 8 grams of protein per 8 oz. versus 1 gm or less in these other beverages.

And cow's milk is typically cheaper per 8 oz. serving, ranging from about 40% to 60% less. For head-to-head comparisons, click here