Australian manufacturers of beverages made from soybean, almond, rice and other plant-based non-milk sources seem likely to bow to dairy sector pressure and drop the term “milk” from their labels.
A groundswell of northern hemisphere reaction against the word milk used to describe imitation dairy products now has local processors also thinking twice about the need for the term in Australian and New Zealand.
A European Union court decision recently banned words such as “milk”, “yoghurt” or “butter” being used on most non-dairy products.
Dairy farmers in Australia also want a ban on what they consider deceptive branding on products made from crops as diverse as cashews, coconuts and hemp.
“I think it (removing the term `milk’) is probably a trend we will see here,” said Freedom Foods managing director, Rory Macleod.
But Mr Macleod doubts changing the label would change a (non-dairy) product’s recognition factor or popularity.
NSW-based dairy advocacy group Dairy Connect has led the charge against “fake milk” labeling, recently launching a Change.org online petition aimed at pushing food and consumer product regulators to follow the lead of northern hemisphere lawmakers.
The local body, representing farmers, processors and dairy product distributors, said real milk’s good name had been hijacked by processors of dairy alternative products.
In the US, recent political support has built up to enact clear Food and Drug Administration laws defending milk from imitations, including non-dairy yogurt and cheese products.
Similar laws already ban dairy alternatives being labelled as milk in Canada, protecting the word milk to describe "the lacteal secretion obtained from the mammary gland of a cow”.
An Australian delegation to the International Dairy Federation world summit in Belfast later this week is also aiming to tap ideas on how to champion milk’s credibility against new-age plant substitutes.