Next time you reach for almond milk in the supermarket, imagine a chorus of dairy farmers standing behind you, asking if you’re really gonna spend your money on that... stuff. Whatever it really is.
Bloomberg Businessweek has a piece about the ever-increasing popularity of almond milk and its impact on the dairy business:
California is tops in the U.S. for both dairy production (about one-third more than No. 2 Wisconsin) and almonds (80 percent of global output). Land in the state devoted to almond groves has been steadily rising — 350,000 acres (141,640 hectares) added over the last decade, enough to double the crop to more than 2 billion pounds, according to Rabobank International –- while the state lost about 10,000 milk cows this year through July, a 0.6 percent drop from 2015.
Almonds are edging into dairy territory, both in cultivation space and American stomachs. The dent isn’t that major just yet—“Last year, Americans bought $890 million of [almond milk], three times the amount of soy milk’s $286 million, according to IRI. By contrast, consumers bought $9.2 billion of lowfat and skim milk”—but it’s apparently enough to get the dairy business hot under the collar. For instance:
“You can’t get milk from an almond,” said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation. “You have to add a lot of other ingredients to make it look like milk.”
Nor is this the only pushback you’ll see. Back in July, the Atlantic wrote about new campaigns from the dairy industry designed to undermine the challenger:
One recent ad campaign funded by the dairy industry that has appeared on television-streaming platforms makes an effort to challenge that narrative by portraying almond milk as, well, less than pure. The spelling bee-themed commercial features one girl misspelling lecithin, which is defined in the ad as “an emulsifier found in almond milk.” The second contestant wins by simply spelling “milk,” coyly defined as “like, from a cow.” (Curiously, as some critics have pointed out, lecithin is frequently present in dairy milk too.)
Frankly, the longer you think about any of it, the grosser it gets.