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Beyond Meat surprised the stock market when the company turned

out to be the best IPO of 2019.

"Beyond Meat", "Beyond Meat", "Beyond Meat".

Alternative meat was having a moment.

Alternative milk, on the other hand, has been quietly

revolutionizing the dairy industry for years.

Milk, the kind from cows, was once a staple of the American

diet, but now consumers have their choice between almond milk,

rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, soy milkyou get the idea.

Here's how plant based milk is taking on the $107 billion dairy

industry. Milk gained popularity after World War II.

Dairy farmers had amped up milk production to supply the war

effort, but when the war ended, farmers struggled to sell all

the milk they produced at a favorable price.

So, the government stepped in.

Some methods the government used to drive demand included adding

dairy as its own food group to the USDA's food guidance and

instilling it in school lunches across the nation.

But in 2019, Americans are drinking less and less milk.

In fact, milk consumption has fallen nearly 40 percent since

1975. Analysts say a big reason behind the shift is Americans

growing more aware of milk allergies and intolerances.

People are turning to plant-based milk and people with extra

cash would also rather spend the money on soy and almond than

organic milk.

The dairy industry isn't too happy about the changes.

The dairy industry is challenged really at all levels. Look

at the farm level with milk prices having been low for the past

few years.

Profitability for dairy farmers has been very weak.

You're seeing a lot of financial pain at the farmer level,

you know, coming through to the processor level where Dean Foods

isthat's more of a reflection of, you know, these multi-decade

declines in fluid milk consumption that don't really seem to be


In response, the dairy industry attacked the plant-based

alternatives for branding their items as "milk."

Plant-based milk companies use the term because it's easier for

consumers to understand.

The dairy industry thinks it's misleading, which is why you see

"coconut beverage" on some containers instead of coconut milk.

And in 2017, Senator Tammy Baldwin proposed the Dairy Pride Act.

It would "require enforcement against misbranded milk


In 2018, the FDA addressed the dairy industry's concerns.

They called the labeling "misleading" and said that it, "could

compromise the health and wellbeing of consumers."

However, no standard has been put in place.

And despite backlash from the industry, dairy-related companies

are seeing the popularity in nut-based drinks as a business

opportunity. In 2017, Danone acquired WhiteWave, the company

behind Horizon Milk and Silk Pure Almond, for $12.5

billion. Since the purchase, Danone stock has gone up more than

30 percent.

Analysts say the dairy industry has failed to innovate and as a

result, sales of milk have dropped by $4 billion since 2015.

But tech innovations have improved and more plant based products

have appeared on the market, and they look pretty similar to

milk too.

Meet Michele Simon, the executive director of the Plant Based

Foods Association whose members include Beyond Meat and Blue

Diamond Growers.

She explains that plant-based beverages like soy have been

around for a long time and it was the marketing of soy milk that

opened the door for plant-based drinks.

What really brought soy milk into the mainstream market was when

it shifted away from that type of merchandising to being sold

in the refrigerated section right next to cow's milk.

So they changed the packaging and went from those shelf-stable

packages to the familiar gable-top milk style packages and sold

it right where cow's milk is sold.

And it worked.

Today, almond milk dominates 68 percent of the plant-based

industry with soy milk leading in second at 13.8

percent. Former milk producer Elmhurst Milk 1925 shifted from

cow's milk to nut-based beverages in 2017 after signs of the

declining industry.

The change came when CEO Henry Schwartz met food scientist

Cheryl Mitchell who was perfecting a way to use the whole part

of the nut for nut-based beverages.

Here's Cheryl Mitchell explaining Elmhurst's HydroRelease


When we do the HydroRelease method, it's kind of like power

washing. Instead of grinding to a flour, everything comes off in

layers, right, and it's actually a very gentle, gentle process

here and big particles, right.

Well, that's what you want to do with a fiber is that you want

to make sure that the fiber stay very long makes them easy to

separate from the protein.

And, that's what the hydrorelease process so I was able to

figure out the right equipment to make sure all of this happens.

Oh, and by the way, Cheryl thinks it shouldn't be called

plant-based milk.

Elmhurst 1925 calls it "milked" because they're literally

lactating the milk.

According to IBISWorld, a market research organization, the

plant-based beverage industry could be worth $2.4 billion

by 2024, but it's facing challenges.

Some companies often have trouble keeping up with demand and to

see where the old school dairy industry is going.

Some analysts say to look at the coffee industry.

A 2016 Wells Fargo report draws parallels between the milk and

coffee industries.

From 1946 to 1996, coffee consumption declined by 56 percent,

but since 1997 it's rebounded by 14 percent.

The coffee industry had become complacent with producing instant

coffee and had continued to market to adults instead of a larger

market. Coffee intake was also down due to speculative links

between caffeine and cancer, high cholesterol and other health

diseases. Sound familiar?

The dairy industry has the same problems.

The game changer for coffee was focusing on premium and

specialty coffee.

So we think what the milk category is really missing is, you

know, what coffee leaned on 30 years ago.

It's quality.

It's marketing, it's investment, it's branding and we've seen

that with Fairlife, you know, from Coke and I think that that is

a little case study that shows that if you do have an emphasis

on quality, emphasis on taste, you know, marketing dollars

behind it you can actually drive growth in the category and even

at higher price points.

While plant-based milk may be the newest threat to cow's milk, it

wasn't the first.

The dairy industry also dealt with the rise of soda and bottled

water. So as plant-based meats take on Wall Street and hit store

shelves, remember it was plant-based milk that flooded the

market first.

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