Vegan dairy alternative products have been prohibited from using the words ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’, which are now reserved by EU law for animal products.
This will have an impact on companies which use terms like ‘nut milk’, ‘vegan cheese’ or ‘soya cream’. There are some exemptions to the ruling including peanut butter, almond milk and coconut milk but Soya and Tofu products are not included in the exemption.
Alexander Anton, secretary general of the European Dairy Association, said the announcement was: “A good day for dairy, a good day for European citizens and a good day for Europe.”
Additionally, earlier this year, Jim Mulhern, the president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, said: “You haven’t got milk if it comes from a seed, nut or bean. In the many years since we first raised concerns about the misbranding of these products, we’ve seen an explosion of imitators attaching the word milk to everything from hemp to peas to algae.”
This ruling is being celebrated as a victory by the dairy industry in an ongoing war against plant-based products. However, it seems highly unlikely that this hurdle will cripple the rise of plant-based products, which have exploded into the market in the last 18 months and continue to grow in popularity.
In comparison, dairy farmers are facing falling profits. DEFRA (Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs) have said that average incomes on dairy farms were expected to fall to £22,500 in 2016/2017, which equates to just under a 50 per cent decrease.
This news comes just a couple of days after a beef farmer in Derbyshire gave his heard of 63 cows to a rescue centre in Norfolk. Mr Wilde, the farmer, is now going to run a vegan, organic market farm as he has stated that he was no longer able to endure and promote a cruel industry. These stories point to the ever-increasing number of people who are opting to live without compromising animal rights.
This announcement is a set-back for plant-based businesses, but by no means a loss. The vegan movement has proved again and again that it can overcome significant hurdles and we suspect that this will be no exception.
Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said: “The Court’s ruling follows concerns over customer confusion – but realistically speaking, how likely is it that someone buys a carton of soya milk and think it’s dairy milk?
As customers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is rapidly growing, with over half a million vegans in Great Britain now. There’s no denying that the meat, dairy and egg industries are feeling threatened, and this court case is a desperate move to try to restrict the marketing of vegan products.”