Article

Andy Bhatt
Andy Bhatt 24 March 2023

The Marketing and PR Implications for Milk Labeling

Recently, news broke that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that non-dairy products made from soy, oats, and other plants could be labeled as "milk." This is a significant development not just for the plant-based milk industry, but the dairy industry as well.

The PR and marketing implications of this news are vast, as it is likely to spark debate and conversation among consumers and government officials. On the one hand, the dairy industry may feel threatened by the decision as it could lead to increased competition from plant-based milk producers.

However, the decision may also create new opportunities for the dairy industry to expand their product offerings and appeal to consumers who are looking for more plant-based options.

Talking Points: The Marketing and PR Implications for Milk Labeling

For plant-based milk producers, the news is a clear win. For years, they have been fighting for the right to use the term "milk" on their products, arguing that it is a common and widely recognized term. The decision by the FDA validates their position and could help increase sales and market share as consumers become more aware of the variety of options available to them.

In addition, the news could lead to increased collaboration between the dairy and plant-based milk industries. Rather than viewing each other as competitors, companies may see the benefit of working together to create new products that combine the best of both worlds. For example, a dairy company may partner with a plant-based milk producer to create a hybrid “blended” product.

The FDA’s decision also highlights the importance of communication and transparency in the food industry. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of what they eat and where their food comes from.

Companies that are transparent about their ingredients, production methods, and sourcing are likely to build trust and loyalty with consumers. This presents an opportunity to showcase a commitment to transparency and build stronger relationships with their customers.

To benefit from this news, the dairy industry could use some of the following strategies:

Emphasize the Traditional Nature of Cow's Milk

The dairy industry and lobbyists could emphasize the traditional nature of cow's milk and position it as a staple in the American diet. They could also promote the idea that cow's milk has been part of our cultural heritage for generations, and should not be replaced by new plant-based alternatives.

Promote Dairy's Role in Supporting Local Farmers

Position the dairy industry as a key supporter of local farmers and rural communities, reminding consumers that the dairy industry provides vital economic support to local communities and plays an essential role in preserving rural culture and way of life.

Collaborate with Plant-based Milk Producers

Rather than seeing plant-based milk as a threat, they could explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation (e.g. work together to create hybrid products that combine the best of both worlds and appeal to a broader range of consumers).

Frame the News as a Victory for Dairy

Position the FDA's decision as a victory for the dairy industry - highlight the fact that the FDA recognizes the importance of milk as a common and widely recognized term, and that this decision reinforces the value of cow's milk as a nutritious and essential part of the American diet.

On the plant-based side:

Appeal to Ethical and Environmental Concerns

Plant-based milk brands can appeal to consumers who are concerned about animal welfare and environmental issues. They can highlight the fact that plant-based milks are a cruelty-free alternative to cow's milk and that they have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional dairy products.

Highlight Variety

Plant-based milk brands can use this news to promote the variety of options available to consumers. They can highlight the fact that there are many different plant-based milks to choose from, including almond, soy, oat, and hemp milk, among others.

Collaborate with Dairy Producers

Plant-based milk brands can explore opportunities for collaboration with dairy producers to create hybrid products that combine the best of both worlds. They can work together to create products that appeal to a broader range of consumers and offer a wider variety of options.

Controlling the Narrative

The FDA's proposed decision to allow non-dairy products to be labeled as "milk" presents significant public relations implications and opportunities for both the dairy industry and plant-based milk brands. While the dairy industry may face challenges in adapting to this new landscape, they can use various strategies to benefit from this news and spin it in their favor.

On the other hand, plant-based milk brands can capitalize on this decision by highlighting the health benefits, sustainability, and variety of options available in their products. Regardless of which side of the debate a brand falls on, it is crucial to approach this news with a PR strategy that considers both short-term and long-term goals.

By doing so, brands can navigate this shifting landscape and position themselves for success in the years to come.

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