With sales of nondairy beverages poised to surpass $35 billion by 2024, it’s safe to say that the traditional big dairy industry is no longer, well, traditional. Milk from soybeans, rice, almonds, coconuts, and seeds of all kind, are as commonplace today as low-fat, 2%, or skim milk was a half-century ago, no matter what we call it.
Subsequently, the dairy industry is looking to reinvent milk, or at least, reinvigorate our relationship to it. As Vice’s Munchies reports, Danish milk company Arla Food (a milk cooperative of more than 12,000 farmers), “is looking to make carbonated milk the next big thing.”
Arla’s not only looking to spur interest in traditional milk by adding carbonation, but possibly looking to capitalize on waning interest in sugary carbonated sodas a well as soda sales recently hit an all-time low.
“Arla wants to be a global leader in the milk industry,” reports Vice, “and, in their estimation, fizzy milk is a crucial part of that.”
“We’re seeing that the markets for these products are growing rapidly,” Arla Food marketing officer Hanna Søndergaard said, noting the company is ready to launch the bubbles. "The tech and the product itself are already there," she said. "We are now going to develop the brand and set up distribution.”
Efforts to keep milk relevant also go outside the bottle—literally. According to Bloomberg, USDA researchers have identified casein, a milk protein, as a potentially “edible, biodegradable packaging film.”
That’s right, the massively unsustainable dairy industry is being touted as a sustainable alternative to conventional packaging like plastic film. Granted, a packaging that biodegrades is much more desirable than plastic wrappers that sit in landfills for centuries. But is milk really the best choice?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, “Dairy production has a considerable effect on climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. In the US, the greatest sources of these emissions in milk production include feed production, enteric fermentation and manure management.”
And dairy-based food packaging would certainly be an issue for the millions of people with dairy allergies and intolerances or vegan diet preferences. Fortunately, there are numerous plastic alternatives already available that don’t involve milk.
According to USDA data, conventional fluid milk sales declined 1.8 percent between 2015 and 2016, while sales of organic milk increased nearly 7 percent.
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Milk image via Shutterstock