Milkless Milk: How Plant-Based Dairy Is Changing the Manufacturing Game

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Manufacturing, ERP

 

If you’ve been in the milk aisle lately, you’ve probably noticed quite a few options beyond your standard 2% or skim. Consumers are increasingly interested in alternative options to dairy milk, whether it’s oat, soy or nut. According to Nielsen data, retail sales of plant-based foods in the United States reached $3.3 billion in 2018. This number is only expected to grow in upcoming years.

Consumers are opting for these plant-based milks for several reasons; first, more consumers are trying to live health-conscious lives. If you’re looking for options that have fewer calories, have less sugar (as long as you select an unsweetened option) and have fewer carbohydrates, milk alternatives are going to be your best bet. Another reason consumers are turning to plant-based milk is due to allergies. According to Innovate Research, cow’s milk is ranked among the ‘Big 8,’ which is a set of foods that account for more than 90% of food-related allergic reactions in the U.S. Individuals with dairy allergies and lactose intolerances can turn to dairy-free milks as a substitute. 

In addition, many consumers are attempting to lower their environmental footprint by opting for a plant-based milk. A study at the University of Oxford indicated that producing a glass of dairy milk results in nearly three times the greenhouse gas emissions than that of non-dairy milks. And now with the prevalence of alternative milks in coffee shops, restaurants and cafes, some consumers are turning to plant-based milk because of taste preferences.

How is the plant-based revolution changing manufacturing?

In the past, many dairy companies have been apprehensive about hopping on the alternative milk bandwagon. Some farmers have voiced their complaints about plant-based beverages being called milks when they’re actually crafted from soy or almonds or oats. However, as demand grows, more and more are branching into various plant-based milk avenues.

If you’re looking to manufacture plant-based milk, you’ll need to know about the various complexities involved in production. When it comes to consumers’ needs, traceability is key. Many plant-based products claim to be lactose-free, non-GMO and/or ethically sourced, so the ability to trace every step and stage of your process is essential. It is critical for the safety of consumers and for recall and regulatory compliance.

You’ll also want to ensure product quality by keeping track of production processes. Because achieving the right recipe requires trial and error, it’s critical you determine and track your ingredients, recipe revisions and results so that you never have to compromise or sacrifice taste and flavor.

A solution to help you

While dairy milk isn’t going to be completely replaced, dairy manufacturers should consider developing plant-based milk options to stay competitive. The pressure is on manufacturers to react and respond to this growing trend. Change is never easy; it is easier, however, when you have the right technology to support you along the way.

Adopting the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can help you move into this new, milk-alternative space more smoothly, allowing you to fully integrate your supply chain systems and product lifecycles. ERP gives you deeper insight into all of your processes, allowing you to make adjustments or changes as you see fit. We don’t really know the direction in which this milk-alternative demand is going to take us, so the ability to scale up or down with the demand of it will not only prepare you for what your consumers want but save you money in the long run.

Selecting the right ERP can also help you manage the complexities involved in achieving traceability. You can monitor all resources, including raw materials and packaging supplies, to ensure products live up to your customers’, and regulatory, standards. An ERP can help you track all recipes and ensure consistent quality from batch to batch.

If you’re looking to adopt a new ERP, Aptean provides the right functionalities to manage plant-based manufacturing. JustFood is specialized with capabilities that reduce costs, increase efficiency, and provide industry compliance. And because JustFood is designed specifically for your industry needs, it eliminates time spent customizing a generic option. No matter the change or trend, you’ll be prepared to face it.

Want to know more about how JustFood ERP can help you? Read more here.