Struggling farmers are calling for a ban on the marketing of plant-based products as ‘milks’, saying it’s misleading and diminishes the value of Australian dairy.
Fourth generation Eskdale dairy farmer Karen Moroney supported Nationals’ deputy leader Bridget McKenzie’s call for ‘milk’ and ‘meat’ labels to only be used for animal products.
Ms Moroney said the federal standard already defines milk as the lacteal secretions from milking, so did not apply to plant-based products which are juices or waters.
She said Australian dairy and milk was internationally recognised for its high standards, and its reputation should be protected.
“I feel it cheapens our product, not only that but it competes with us in the marketplace,” Mrs Moroney said.
“This has been going on for decades and I think the Federal Standards Committee find it hard to reverse what has become a big commercial operation.
“It’s in violation of the existing regulation... and they’re getting away with it.”
Mrs Moroney said there was a commercial place for what she called ‘almond water’ or ‘soy water’ and other dairy alternatives, especially for people with lactose intolerance.
But by using the word milk, she said, they are piggybacking off the good reputation of Australian dairy farmers and their product.
“People need to be informed,” she said. “Some people want or need alternatives for health reasons, so these products have a place in the market – just don’t call it milk, it’s not milk.
“It’s bastardising the natural product.”
KyValley Dairy chief executive Alastair McCredden agreed calling plant-based products milks was incorrect, and said he would welcome more clarity in the market.
“Milk comes from mammals whereas juice comes from vegetable, fruit or nut,” he said.
“As a consumer I do think it’s a little misleading.”
Ms McKenzie told the ABC changes were needed to protect the reputation of Australia farmers and ensure consumers are getting what they expect.
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