Milk Substitutes

An Intolerance for Low Profits

milk1
Like milk, only more expensive.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Retailers, especially those catering to the vegan market, are cashing in on the current fad for milk substitute products.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • German retailers sold €154 million of milk substitute products in 2014 – an increase of more than 40 percent over 2013.
    • The drinks often contain just a fraction of the milk substitute product.
    • Experts say there are few if any additional health benefits over cows’ milk.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Sandra Neumeier is alternative in more ways than one. The young businesswoman has bright green hair and runs a small grocery store in Hamburg’s trendy St. Pauli district called Twelve Monkeys. It offers “vegan stuff,” meaning vegetable-based items – all in plastics-free packaging – that are usually produced locally. Strictly no animal products.

The store also sells milk that isn’t milk at all.

A wooden shelf in the store bends under the weight of milk substitutes and alternatives: Almond drinks, soy drinks, oat drinks, rice drinks and hazelnut, coconut and macadamia-nut drinks – some in many different varieties. A few spots on the shelves are empty, however.

“It can happen that the producers are unable to deliver,” Ms. Neumeier said. The drinks often sell so fast that production can’t keep up with demand.

Official stats on the milk-substitute market are hard to come by, but all available numbers point in one direction: Straight up.

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