31 Aug 2013 - If You Don’t ‘Milk it’, It Ain’t MILK!

I begin this week’s Samuelson Sez with full disclosure. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and milked cows for a living during my teen years. Because of my loyalty to dairy products, you will never find oleomargarine in my refrigerator and the liquid you will find in my glass at dinner time is milk from a cow.

What prompts these comments? A recent story by Bloomberg Business Week that non-dairy alternatives to cow milk are moving into the mainstream but are still being called milk. At WhiteWave Foods, the company behind leading soy milk brand, SILK, sales increased 12% last quarter, and since March, a majority of its alternative milk sales have been coming from almonds. Sales of its newer Almond Milk grew by more than 50% last quarter. The story goes on to say that retail sales of dairy alternatives made from almonds, rice and coconuts in the U.S. are now nearly $1.4-billion, expected to reach $1.7-billion by 2016.

So what is my point? My point is . . . if it doesn’t come from a cow, it is not milk and should not be called by that name. So to my friends in the soybean industry and my friends in the almond industry . . . quit calling it ‘milk’! It is not Almond Milk, and it is not Soy Milk; it is an Almond Beverage and a Soy Beverage. If it does not come from a cow, it is not milk!

Yet, because of the long-time popularity of milk as a tasty, wholesome and nutritious drink, I can understand why alternative beverage producers want to use that word in the name, promotion and advertising of their beverage.

It reminds me of the margarine controversy back in the 50's and 60's when margarine producers colored their product yellow. Why yellow instead of red, purple, green, blue or its natural color, white? We know the answer to that question, they colored oleo yellow because they wanted it to look like BUTTER, even if it did not taste like the dairy product, and they knew it would help attract consumers. Only in Wisconsin, oleo was sold white and you had to add the yellow color.

So, please! Stop calling it ‘milk’ if it comes from soybeans or almonds. I never sat on a milk stool by a soybean plant and milked it and I never sat under an almond tree and milked it. So, how about a little truth in advertising? It is only milk if it comes from a cow.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.