- WhiteWave Foods said recent lawsuits challenging the use of the term “almondmilk” are a waste of the court’s time and resources, according to Food Navigator.
- Recent complaints against WhiteWave Foods and Blue Diamond Growers also have argued that Silk almondmilk and Almond Breeze are being wrongly advertised as nutritionally superior or equal to dairy milk.
- WhiteWave has countered the claims in the suit are “expressly preempted” by federal food labeling laws and should be under the jurisdiction of the FDA.
WhiteWave, which has been purchased by Danone, is vehement in its stance against recent lawsuits challenging the use of the term “almondmilk,” arguing it’s a waste of time and resources. In the past few months, WhiteWave Foods and Blue Diamond Growers, which manufacturers Almond Breeze, have both been hit with class-action lawsuits from consumers who say their alternative milk products falsely claim to be equally or more nutritious than dairy milk.
Mintel released a report showing U.S. non-dairy milk sales grew 9% in 2015, while dairy milk sales declined 7% during that same time. With these figures, it only makes sense that milk companies go after those responsible for alternative products as they threaten to take market share and cause dairy milk prices to decline.
This is a dispute that has been stirring the industry for some time. Back in 2013, a California federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against major dairy processors, including WhiteWave, that alleged these alternative dairy companies mislabeled their plant-based dairy products as "milk" even though they do not come from cows. At the end of 2016, more than two dozen U.S. lawmakers signed a letter sent to former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf requesting the agency take action to investigate the use of the term “milk” by plant-based dairy brands.
In January, the “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese To Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act” bill, known as the DAIRY PRIDE act, was proposed in the Senate to push the FDA to exclude nut or plant-based milk alternatives from the definition of milk.
This is a fight that milk manufacturers won't walk away from anytime soon, and it will be interesting to see how consumers respond. It seems unlikely that the removal of the term "milk" will dissuade lovers of nut-based dairy products from buying brands like Silk and Blue Diamond, as many prefer these formulas for their taste and reduced fat content.