A push by dairy farmers to ban the word "milk" on plant-based varieties, calling their labelling "dishonest" and "misleading", has been quashed by beverage giant Vitasoy.
The international company, which has more than 100 Border employees at its Baranduda factory, said growth in the plant-based milk varieties such as soy, almond and rice milk, was "not about avoidance" of dairy but "more about variety".
Peak dairy farmer group Australian Dairy Farmers has written to federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie and chair of the Ministerial Food Forum Richard Colbeck asking to change the country's food standards in a bid to ban plant-based products from using the term "milk" on labels and in marketing.
A Vitasoy Australia spokeswoman said they don't believe there is any consumer confusion between dairy milk and plant-based milk.
"Plant-based milks have evolved significantly in recent years and today dairy and plant-based milks are highly differentiated categories that offer different nutritional benefits," she said.
"It's about providing consumers choice."
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ADF president Terry Richardson said the "dishonest labelling and marketing strategy" gave the "misleading impression" plant-based products had a nutritional equivalency with dairy milk.
"Australia needs to restore truth in product labelling so consumers can make more accurate food and beverage choices," he said.
"Over the pact decade, a growing number of plant-based products have cropped up, using the name milk, co-opting the look and feel of dairy milk right down to the packaging, and trading on dairy's reputation to gain a marketing advantage."
Vitasoy disputed this and said they "advocate a balanced approach".
"Both are generally nutritionally good choices, offering different benefits to meet individual needs and preferences," the spokeswoman said.
"Vitasoy Australia is committed to transparency and offering consumers as much choice as possible.
"This includes detailed product ingredient and nutrition information on labels and also on our website to allow consumers to make informed choices about each of our products.
"Individual dietary advice should be sought from your medical practitioner or an accredited practising dietitian."
Mr Richardson said they are calling for changes to the food standards so "consumers trying to make a healthy choice at the supermarket" have the benefit of "transparent and accurate product labelling".
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