But dairy milk is still the most widely consumed.

By Mike Pomranz
January 24, 2019

The world often prefers to see things in black and white. With diets, it’s often vegetarians versus carnivores. But in fact, the vast majority of humans are omnivores, and we even have a term for people who accept many of the ideas of vegetarianism but still occasionally eat meat: flexitarians.

Along those lines, the supposed battle between dairy and non-dairy products has caused plenty of debate. Specifically, calls have been made to reserve the term “milk” for products that come from an animal, leaving alternatives like soy milk or almond milk out in the cold. Part of the argument has been a potential for confusion: shoppers not being able to tease apart the differences between the two. But recent research suggests that for many consumers, there’s little confusion at all… because they actively purchase both dairy and non-dairy milk on a semi-regular basis.

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Nearly half – 48 percent – of Americans polled said they had purchased both dairy-based and plant-based milk in the past year, according to a survey of about 2,000 adults from market research firm Ipsos commissioned by Dairy Management Inc. Though these purchases certainly could have been made by accident, the findings would seem to point towards the idea that a good chunk of consumers are not only actively able to choose between normal milk and plant-based milk, but they also sometimes like to choose both.

Interestingly, the discrepancy in consumption of dairy milk versus plant-based milk was far wider. According to FoodNavigator-USA, which published the survey’s results, only 26 percent of respondents had consumed both dairy and plant-based milk in the past six months (as opposed to a year, which was the metric used for purchase). Meanwhile, 62 percent of those polled said they had drunk only dairy milk in the last half-year. Does this shift in percentages mean that milk drinkers are buying plant-based milk and not drinking it? Or maybe plant-based milk drinkers are better at getting other people to do their shopping for them? Regardless, with 38 percent of people drinking plant-based milk in the past six months, it would seem like plant-based milk is here to stay, regardless of what you call it.

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