Soybean – the rise of plant based products

With today marking the first day of #Februdairy and with the Dairy Tech Show next week, I felt only appropriate for the next topic to surround dairy. With the recent vegan upsurge, there has been a lot of controversy not only within the industry but amongst consumers too. I only fear this gap will continue to widen.

We have seen the over population of products and services across many industries and markets over the years. Some to note are Apple vs Microsoft, Dyson vs Hoover, Gucci Vs Guess, Bing vs Google and so on. You could hone right in on farming and argue who was the first brand to launch a quadtrac tractor, it seems now all of the ‘big’ tractor manufactures have one in their product range. With this in mind, are plant based dairy products healthy competition for dairy? Or not?

Are non-dairy products putting dairy farmers out of business?

Towards the end of 2017, the industry saw some bleak headlines after a turbulent year. Just last week, The Farmers Weekly published the news that Dairy co-op First Milk has reduced its milk price by 1p/litre from the 1st February.  However, it is not all bleak:

‘Demand for dairy is growing globally’

Looking closer to home, in Scotland there are fewer, bigger, dairy herds, according to the ‘Scottish Farmer’. Perhaps this will be the new norm for the sector. A survey last year revealed that a third of U.K children did not know where milk comes from. Does education also need to become a primary focus going forward to the UK Government and supermarkets who also have associated power?

Soybean – The Facts

What do we know about soybean? Well in Argentina alone, it is the country’s largest export on a whole. It is considered to be a ‘sexy’ crop now in the UK for its market price share. While the price of feed wheat is at £136 £/t, the estimated market value for soya is £400 £/t. The figures speak for themselves. A fantastic break crop for blackgrass, China and South-East Asia are prime markets for export for soybean.

There has been a shift in consumer trends and their need for having access to the traceability of food. Are consumers consumed? Or are vegans just playing on emotions? Many of you will see and be frustrated by the daily tweets about how people think milk is produced. #Febudairy is a great campaign to get involved with whether you drink milk or not – you might learn something yourself, hopefully these dairy myths will be put to bed once and for all. 

Soya milk vs milk ingredients

Typical Values (1L) Soya Fresh Milk – Typical Values per 100 ml Semi Skimmed Milk – Typical Values Per 100ml
Energy 161 kJ / 39 kcal 206kJ/ 49kcal
Fat 1.8 g 1.7 g
Of which saturates 0.3 g 1.0 g
Carbohydrate 2.5 g 4.8 g
Of which sugars 2.5 g 4.8 g
Protein 3.0 g 3.6 g
Salt 0.06 g 0.1 g
Calcium 120 mg 124 mg

Contrary to popular belief calcium and non-dairy products contain roughly the same amount of calcium. However, calcium is added to the non-dairy products. Last year saw the ban of plant based drinks next to dairy products on supermarket shelves. Some of the biggest supermarkets use words to describe said products as ‘dairy alternatives’, ‘dairy and lactose free’, ‘free from dairy’ and ‘dairy free alternatives’.

The ‘balanced diet’

Many of you will recognise learning this diagram from your school years – but does this still represent your average modern-day diet? I don’t think so. With it being ‘in vogue’ to participate in activities like “veganuary”, there is a risk that the wrong health messages are being sent.

Image result for balanced diet

Like anything, I am sure there will be a new trendy product on the market this year. Milk is a good source of both calcium and protein, even the NHS states “Milk and dairy products are an important part of a young child’s diet.” But one not many are aware of, is that it has the best source of iodine.

Whether you’ve ‘got milk?’ or not, I think the motto of the story here is to make the right decisions for your health and don’t believe everything you read on Twitter – support campaigns like #Febudairy to promote how milk is truly produced.




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