The growing popularity, if not success, of soy, oat and other alternatives to milk, has caught the attention of India’s Big Dairy — Amul, Mother Dairy, and other national and local milk co-operative brands that dominate India’s dairy market.
According to a report by The Economic Times, India’s market for plant alternatives for milk and meat is pretty small, with estimates showing that the milk alternatives industry is worth somewhere between Rs 200-300 crore. Dairy brands, which dominate the Rs 1.5 lakh crore worth market, say they are concerned because they believe plant-based milk is inferior to dairy.
“If you make plant-based products, you have to make sure you say they are synthetic products with some natural ingredients, with artificial colour, flavour... You eat food because of three things — taste, nutrition, and affordability. These products do not meet any of these parameters. They are not natural products. They are nutritionally very inferior (to milk protein). They are not plant-based; they are chemical-based. They are artificial," managing director of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, owner of the Amul brand, RS Sodhi, was quoted as saying by the publication.
As more celebrities turn vegans for ethical or health reasons, youngsters are becoming keener on taking up the lifestyle. However, in a country like India, where a big chunk of the population remains below poverty, finding expensive substitutes for dairy is not feasible for all. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India also asked Amul to make a decision to switch to producing vegan milk. In a letter to Sodhi, PETA said the dairy cooperative society should get benefitted from the booming vegan food and milk market.
“Don't you know dairy farmers are mostly landless? Your designs may kill their only source of livelihood. Mind it milk is in our faith, our traditions, our taste, our food habits an easy and always available source of nutrition," Sodhi said.
In March, Amul reportedly ran an advertisement claiming to bust the myth that the dairy industry is cruel to animals. The tussle has now reached the court with Delhi High Court protecting five companies selling plant-based milk products, from any coercive steps for using “dairy terms” for their goods.
The food safety regulator FSSAI in September issued draft guidelines on classifying plant-based foods and other vegan options and launched a logo for "easy identification and distinction from non-vegan foods for empowering consumers to make informed food choices."
(With agency/DHNS inputs)
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