World 05.02.2024

After Dairy Innovations Congress in Dubai

Source: The DairyNews
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A few more impressions after participating in the Dairy Innovations Congress in Dubai.
After Dairy Innovations Congress in Dubai
One of the panel discussions was dedicated to the topic, 'What is the future for - natural milk or plant-based analogs?'

Most speakers, of course, agreed that natural milk will prevail and has significant prospects, but a significant portion of consumers in the Middle East lean towards plant-based alternatives.

But I have my own opinion on this matter.

1. In the natural milk market, there is already intense competition within the category. Even at this conference, speakers debated which milk is better - cow's or camel's. And if we recall the anti-milk campaign initiated by A2 milk producers, claiming that all A1 milk (almost all milk) is entirely unfit to drink and harmful, and only A2 is the savior, then the battle against plant-based analogs seems like child's play. (By the way, five years ago, we interviewed one of the ideologists of A2 milk - Keith Woodford - https://lnkd.in/eZCxXYRn.)

2. Let's be honest - the dairy industry has always used plant-based analogs, replacing milk fats and proteins with plant-based ones. Margarines, spreads, cheese products… Aren't these plant-based analogs? At least partially. In this sense, it's astonishingly cynical (or audacious) for those fighting against soy milk while producing milk-containing products with a milk fat substitute. It's either taking off the cross or putting on the panties.

3. The demand for different types of milk depends directly on the geography, religion in a specific region, consumption culture, and the national composition of consumers. It is absolutely clear that in Dubai, the consumption of plant-based products will always be higher due to the significant number of traditional vegetarians and vegans (Indians, Chinese, and many others). And conversely, it is clear that in Europe, the consumption of traditional dairy products will always be higher, and all plant-based analogs will simply be part of the assortment.

4. Accessibility. This discussion is only possible because consumers now have a choice. There wasn't one before, and now consumers can try different products because modern trade and logistics allow it.

Hence, only one conclusion follows: the debate about whether the future is for natural milk or plant-based analogs is fundamentally meaningless.

There is only one problem: the creation of synthesized milk in the future. Then livestock farming will face tough times. But who said that's a bad thing?
The opinion of the editorial board may not coincide with the opinion of the author
Lee Mielke
Lee Mielke
editor of the Mielke Market Weekly
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Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith
Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California
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February 2024
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