When you think about it drinking cows’ milk is a little bit weird.
Don’t get me wrong as someone who has been a fan of milk all my life but at first sight it is not a product that seems to be a drink for humans.
I can remember when I was young some of my friends were revolted by the thought of drinking something that was produced from a cow.
Add to that approximately 65 per cent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.
Today many in the world are falling out of favour when it comes to liquid milk.
In the US consumption of milk has fallen by more than 40pc since 1975 and this month the biggest milk company, Dean Foods, has filed for bankruptcy.
Young consumers are switching to hemp, almond and oat milks as greater awareness of what happens in the traditional milk industry becomes more widely known.
In addition, cow’s milk is now seen as unhealthy and something to be avoided.
In supermarkets you can now find a staggering selection of plant-based milks such as cashew, soy, macadamia, pea, flax, chocolate, banana, coconut, rice as well as hemp, almond and oat mentioned above. Plant based milks in the US only make up 13pc of the total milk market but growing fast.
Recently, Oatly, the Swedish oat milk producer opened a new $15 million processing plant in the US.
The plant-based alternatives are not just confined to replacing liquid milk but also making inroads when it comes to yogurts, creamers for coffee and ice cream. Chobani who took the US by storm with their Greek yogurt has announced the company is branching into oat milk products and coffee creamers.
Greek yogurt’s growth has slowed partly due to protein-packed, low-sugar Skyr Icelandic yogurt.
In the UK it is a similar story with 35 dairy farmers quitting the industry since February this year.
A recent survey by Mintel found that 25pc of Brits now choose plant milk adding to the doom and gloom in the dairy industry.
Over in Australia the trend away from cow’s milk has resulted in 375 dairy farms no longer producing milk in the last 15 months.
More bad news is on the way with six pc of remaining farmers looking to quit the industry in the next couple of years.
Recent studies have shown that milk is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Studies have also shown that milk is not essential for bone health which was the story we were all told when I was a boy.
The industry is also under attack from the environmentalists who claim that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for between 13pc and 18pc of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Much of the deforesting problems worrying people today are linked to raising animals leading more consumers to switch away from animal food products.
Finally, RethinkX, an independent think tank has released a report stating that by 2030, the number of cows in the US will have fallen by 50pc and the cattle farming industry will be all but bankrupt.
Seems the old UK milk slogan “drinka pinta milka day” is truly dead and buried.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at [email protected]