Britain’s largest dairy company knows dairy is on the decline—and it’s blaming young vegans. In April, Arla Foods launched a campaign voicing “concern” over younger generations turning their backs on dairy. In a poll the company conducted, half of Generation Z respondents said they felt embarrassed ordering dairy in front of their peers, while 57 percent said they planned to stop consuming dairy entirely.
It comes as no surprise that the dairy industry is afraid of Gen Z. Younger generations have embraced plant-based products and are more likely to be vegan. Meanwhile, the dairy industry is chiefly run by older white men.
Kai Heron—a political economy researcher specializing in dairy farming—believes the campaign reflects the dairy industry’s “desperation” and tendency to “play the victim.” Welsh dairy farmer Alex Heffron commented that the dairy industry feels it is “under siege” and it’s easy to “scapegoat” vegans.
The dairy industry is right to be worried. Demand for plant-based ingredients is booming, estimated to grow from $8 trillion in 2018 to $13 trillion in 2025. Plant-based milk is worth a whopping $2.5 billion, accounts for 15 percent of all dollar sales of retail milk, and is purchased by 39 percent of households. Yet instead of embracing the changing market, Big Dairy is blaming consumers.
While Big Dairy digs in its heels, some farmers are taking matters into their own hands by ditching dairy. Last month, BBC News published an article about meat and dairy farmers embracing veganism. Dr. Nicola Cannon, associate professor of agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University, stated:
The farming sector, especially the dairy industry, is struggling to meet the labor requirements at the moment, and what with the meat sector’s aging agricultural population, the crop sector is generally less intensive.
As the plant-based sector continues to grow, plant-based food producers will need reliable sources of key ingredients, such as peas, mushrooms, oats, and greens. Through the Transfarmation project, Mercy For Animals is proud to partner with farmers to help them transition to plant production and connect them with businesses in need of their products. It’s a true win-win—for farmers and their families, consumers, animals, and the planet.