If you haven’t already noticed all of the vegan options, restaurants, and advertising, more and more consumers around the world are choosing to adopt vegan lifestyles, eschewing animal-derived products. As a result, plant-based alternatives are replacing products that used to come from animals. The dairy industry has been hit particularly hard with the steady decline in the sales of cow’s milk.
Lately, a hot topic in the food world has been the positioning of plant-based foods in the marketplace as replacements for standardized dairy and meat products. One particular point of contention is the labeling of these foods as “meat,” “milk” or “fish”. Dairy farmers and producers of meat products have come out strongly against this as they feel that this creates confusion in the minds of consumers and threatens their own livelihoods.
The Food and Drug Administration is looking to assist the dairy and meat industries by making a case for banning terms like “milk” from the labels of plant-derived alternatives. Based on existing FDA standards on the definition of milk, the agency has indicated that the use of the word “milk” on non-dairy beverages will no longer be allowed. The justification behind this is that there is a proliferation of products made from rice, soy, and other plant-based ingredients calling themselves “milk.”
In Missouri, a bill was just approved by the house stating that any plant-based meat substitutes would need to be labeled as meat-free clearly. The proposal was pushed by the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, as well as the state’s pork producers. They are hoping they can put an end to their rapidly declining sales if plant-based milks and meats are not labeled with the terms “milk” or “meat.”
Next, the bill will go to the Senate for consideration, and if approved, Missouri will be the first state to pass such a regulation. Brands like Beyond Meat are based out of Columbus, Missouri, so this is a surprising move from the state.
Missouri isn’t the only state pushing for stricter labeling restrictions on plant-based foods. Farmers and meat producers in the dairy producing state of Wisconsin are pushing for such regulations, as well. According to the publication Wisconsin State Farmer, plant-based beverages must be labeled clearly to promote honesty and avoid confusion. As long as these standards of identity are enforced, they’re not opposed to the additional competition.
It’s essential that these dairy farmers and meat producers adapt to the changing times. Refusing to start investing in plant-based foods will result in lost jobs and cause them to be left behind. Farms like Elmhurst are taking the lead by switching to plant-based products to sustain their business. The key to survival is understanding the shift in consumer preferences and evolving accordingly. As long as a product is labeled vegan, it must be up to the customer to choose what’s best for them.
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