The year 2023 was a huge year for the market of non-animal milk, as new data from Whipstitch Capital and SPINS shows plant-based milk is now in up to 44% of US households (a 10% increase from previous years), close to reaching the tipping point of 50% household penetration. 

According to the Global Market Insight (GMI) study, the plant milk market is expected to exceed $17 billion by 2026, while it was only worth $12 billion in 2019. The North American dairy-free milk market alone is thought to be worth more than $6 billion. However, according to IPSOS surveys from 2019, half of Americans buy both dairy and plant milks, so this increase in plant milk consumption does not necessarily translate into an increase in vegans. This is why the dairy industry is now producing plant milks too, competing with vegan brands and not allowing them to disrupt the milk market. 

However, as consumers become increasingly aware of the ethical and environmental costs of milk production, they may turn their backs on the dairy industry even if they have not become vegan yet. Also, Millennial and Gen Z consumers are the top consumers of plant-based food, which means that, in a few years, they may displace the older population less worried about the damage the dairy industry causes to the animals, people’s health, and the environment. 

Meanwhile, the PR battle between the dairy industry and the vegan movement continues on several fronts. In May 2023, the UK vegan organisation Viva! issued formal complaints against some of the UK’s biggest food firms for their misleading advertising regarding dairy products. In December, the Swedish Plant-based milk brand Oatly won a legal battle against Dairy UK over the right to use some slogans with the word “milk” in marketing its products. The company registered the slogan “Post Milk Generation” in 2019, but Dairy UK, the trade association of the British dairy industry, challenged the trademark, arguing that the term could not be used “in relation to products that are not mammary secretions.” 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.