How Should Dairy Alternatives Be Labeled in the US?

Dairy Packing Equipment

The consumption of dairy alternatives in the US, such as nut-based milk, cheese, and ice cream, has been growing in recent years, which led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review its labeling policies for the market segment.

Research shows that non-dairy alternative product sales have generated $2.11 billion of revenues since 2012. Changing consumer preferences have led to this trend, but the FDA believes that many remain confused about the healthiness of such products.

Growing Market

A survey aligned with recent studies showing the strength of the US market, which recorded triple-digit growth in sales of plant-based milk. Hence, product packaging needs to be more efficient with rising demand and consumption.

Dairy companies should invest in equipment such as liquid-filling machine nozzles from with accurate functionality. Since food and beverage processing technology has become modernized, manufacturers should also aim to automate their systems.

While alternative dairy products are popular in many parts of the world, some countries still prefer real dairy. In Latin America, for instance, dairy sales reached $430 billion in 2017. Consumers in the region haven’t picked up on the organic trend in the US.

Shifting Tastes

More Americans have become keener on finding out as much nutritional information as possible from dairy products, which is one reason behind the growing consumption of dairy alternatives. Despite their popularity among consumers, the FDA still wants manufacturers to be transparent with their products.

For the dairy industry, the rise of alternatives led them to offer seemingly healthier options such as “ultra-filtered milk.” Sales have taken a hit since the launch of plant-based products, but the FDA’s plan to impose new labeling guidelines may soon level the playing field.

We have yet to see whether authorities will impose new labeling policies on manufacturers of dairy alternatives. In the meantime, food and beverage processors should focus on how to meet rising demand by improving their product-filling systems.