Milk is falling out of fashion.
In 2010, 55 billion pounds of milk were sold in the United States. By 2018, that figure dropped to 47.7 billion, a decline of about 13%.
Last week, that shift finally overwhelmed Dean Foods, the country’s biggest dairy processor. In a statement announcing the company’s bankruptcy filing, CEO Eric Beringause pointed to “continuing declines in consumer milk consumption.”
Meanwhile, a new, competing sector is on the rise: plant-based milks, where US sales have grown 14% in the past two years, according to a July report from the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group, and the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that supports plant-based businesses.
From April 2018 to April of 2019, sales of oat milk jumped 222%, according to GFI. The beverage is certainly buzzy: High-end coffee shops now sell pricey almond-, oat- and coconut-milk lattes. In 2018, Gothamist ran a story titled “Don’t Panic: Reports of ‘Oat Milk Shortage’ are greatly exaggerated” after a New Yorker piece raised the alarm.