WASHINGTON — More than 70% of people in an International Food Information Council survey said they knew plant-based milk alternatives do not contain cow’s milk. Fewer than 10% said they believe cow’s milk is in such products.
The percentages of respondents who said they thought cow’s milk was in alternative milks were 9% for coconut milk, soymilk and almond milk, 8% for cashew milk, and 7% for rice milk. The percentages of people who said they did not know were 20% for cashew milk and rice milk, 18% for coconut milk, and 16% for soymilk and almond milk.
The Food and Drug Administration raised the question of whether plant-based milk alternatives might confuse consumers in the Sept. 28 issue of the Federal Register, which invited comments on the labeling of plant-based products with names that include the names of dairy foods such as milk, cultured milk, yogurt and cheese. The F.D.A. said it was interested in how consumers use the plant-based products and how they understand the terms.
The IFIC survey involved Washington-based research company Lincoln Park Strategies interviewing 1,000 U.S. adults online Aug. 4-6. The survey also asked respondents what types of milk they had purchased in the past three months.
The leading types purchased were 2% milk at 45% and whole milk at 38%. Almond milk at 30% came in ahead of chocolate milk at 29%, 1% milk at 19%, skim milk at 16% and soymilk at 16%. Geographically more people in the West, at 45%, purchased non-dairy milk alternatives than people in the Northeast at 40%, the South at 36% and the Midwest at 30%. Age-wise, more people under 45 at 43% purchased non-dairy milk alternatives than people 45 to 64 at 38% and people 65 and over at 21%. People of color, at 48%, were more likely to buy non-dairy milk alternatives than white people, at 32%.