Customers in the UK are beginning to choose plant-based milk not because having turned vegan but because cow’s milk is becoming too expensive for them. In Summer 2022, pints of milk were being sold for more than £1 in the UK. The supermarket giant Sainsbury’s revealed that single pints in its smaller stores cost £1.05. All UK supermarkets were forced to significantly increase their prices in July after dairy farmers asked for help to turn a profit. The dairy industry is claiming that prices have increased in line with inflation (in July food inflation hit 10% and in August 12.8%), the rising energy prices and the costs of animal feed and packaging (estimated to have risen by up to 40%). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that a pint of milk cost 42p in July 2021, but by May of this year, it had risen by 10p.
According to one study conducted by Mintel in 2021, one-third of British citizens already claim to drink non-dairy milk regularly (oat milk having quickly become the plant-based milk of choice). Brits spent £146 million on oat milk in 2020, up from £74 million in 2019. The Office for National Statistics also revealed that around one in four adults in the UK is cutting down on meat to survive the cost of living crisis (28% of UK adults are now avoiding animal protein to save money). Meat and dairy are both considered to be major drivers of food inflation, which could reach 15% by the end of September. This should increase the prices of products from animal cruelty, which could help vegan alternatives flourish. However, animal agriculture is heavily subsidised, which means that vegan alternatives are often competing at a disadvantage. The removal of such subsidies and subsidising plant-based and fermentation agricultures instead should be the first major practical step toward a vegan world.