Legislators could remove ‘milk’ labeling from non-dairy products

    Decrying non-dairy products under a “milk” label as a scam, Kleinpeter Farms Dairy Vice President Kenny Kleinpeter is supportive of lawmakers’ efforts to define “milk.”

    A bill (SB39) filed by state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, would prohibit the labeling of non-dairy products as milk, like coconut, soy and almond drinks, as well as the sale of such products if labeled as milk. If approved, the Louisiana Department Of Health will be tasked with enforcing the FDA’s definition of milk.

    “It comes down to consumer education because a lot of these items aren’t as healthy as these companies want you to think,” Kleinpeter says. “They have to put in so many chemicals to make it feel and taste like milk, then they add nutrients that aren’t as easily digested as milk.”

    Non-dairy “milk” sales have steadily grown, rising 61% from 2012 to 2017, according to a 2018 analysis by a research agency Mintel. Sales were estimated to reach $2.11 billion in 2017.

    Kleinpeter says the family business’ sales haven’t been affected by the increased popularity for the milk-substitutes, but they have seen retailers give the company’s products less space on store shelves.

    Michael Neuwirth, a spokesman with Danone North America, which owns Silk, told WAFB-TV that further labeling standards are unnecessary because consumers know the difference between dairy milk and plant-based alternatives.

    “I’m tired of waiting around and waiting for the scam to be over,” says Kleinpeter, who served on a committee last year with Sen. Thompson to look at the state’s dairy industry. “Nothing compares to milk as far as taste and nutritious value.”

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