A recent US report by the Dairy Farmers of America states that the dairy industry is in steep decline. In 2018 alone, the loss to the dairy industry is estimated to be $1.1 billion, a drop of 8% compared to 2017. And in the UK, sales of plant-based milk rose by 30% from 2015 to 2017, at an obvious cost to the UK dairy industry. The US study believes that the dairy industry in America could be wiped out in just 10 years.
So what is causing this massive shift to non-dairy products, most especially plant-based milk? Certainly, with the increase in scientific research into the subject showing the harm to the human body dairy can cause, more and more people are moving to non-diary versions of their favourite products. And this of course has resulted in a vast increase in the range of products available, even in mainstream supermarket chains. This is a far cry from the halcyon days of the dairy industry in the 1960s and 70s, when free milk was available for all in UK schools. But by the late 70s the real dangers of dairy milk consumption were beginning to be realised, and more people discovered that they were, in fact, lactose intolerant.
Studies show that nearly 75% of black Americans are lactose intolerant, and milk is the number one source of saturated fats. The results for the human body can be serious, leading to heart disease and diabetes. As Marion Nestle, Professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, so simply put it, “Milk is the perfect food – for calves”.
Fears for the environment have also taken their toll on the dairy industry, as consciousness of the effects of dairy farming increases daily. And coupled with the increased quality and availability of non-dairy alternatives, and the realisation of the health risks of dairy products, it is not surprising that the days of the dairy industry may be numbered. Perhaps a refocusing on the growing of crops that produce quality, non-dairy milk could be the saviour of not only thousands of jobs in dairy farming, but the health of billions of people and, of course, planet earth.
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