Non-dairy beverages and other “mylks” are growing in popularity amongst millennial consumers. Millennials often embrace these plant-based products because they are marketed as being nutritious, eco-friendly and sustainable. Although milk consumption per capita in Canada has declined in recent years, these trends do not necessarily substantiate the common misconception that millennials are done with dairy.
Millennial consumers are generally concerned with three aspects of milk — how healthy it is, the welfare of animals within the industry and the impact of dairy farming on the environment. The Dairy Farmers of Canada 2019 marketing campaign features a series of advertisement strategies aimed at addressing common concerns about dairy and shattering popular misconceptions. For example, the “Dairy Farming Forward” campaign highlights how technology and innovation are increasing sustainable farming practices and reducing the environmental impact of the industry.
The most recent advertisements are entitled “Milk. It’s in the stuff you love” and features an awkwardly, endearing, googly-eyed glass of milk reminding consumers that many of their favourite products are produced from Canadian milk – from cheese and ice cream to butter and yogurts. The humourous commercials aim to connect at an emotional level with the viewer and to establish milk as a key element of consumers’ favourite meals, beverages and snacks.
So while consumers may no longer be settling down with a tall, cold glass of milk, they are consuming it as a component of any number of other foods and beverages they enjoy. A fantastic example of this is cheese. While plant-based products exist they are often criticized for their taste and texture — something consumers are not willing to compromise. In the United States, for instance, millennial consumers are eating three-times as much natural cheese than consumers did in the 1970s. These consumers are also shunning processed cheese products in favour of nutritional impact from ingredients they recognize and can pronounce. Ingredients like quality Canadian milk!
According to the Nourish Report, a major food trend for 2019 is the shift from plant-based products to the rise of the “Conscious Carnivore” and “Ethical Protein”. It is unsurprising then, to learn that when millennials consume milk as a beverage they focus on purchasing organic products that align with their environmental and animal care concerns. In 2016-17, Canadian producers meet consumer demand to the tune of around 1.21 million litres of organic milk. Manufacturers are increasingly promoting dairy’s high protein and the industry’s focus on animal welfare– helping to solidify milk as an excellent choice for a picky, well-informed consumer.
Millennials are also eager to consume milk in new and innovative ways, whether it be milk vodka or beer brewed with milk sugars called fittingly “Milkshake IPAs.”
So are millennials done with dairy? The data says far from it. Canadian Dairy continues to thrive as new and interesting products containing milk are developed — and consumer demands for ethical, sustainable practices are met.