Brands bet on fortification to fill the gaps in plant-based milk innovation

A 2023 study1​ demonstrated that just 12% of milk alternatives sold in the US had a comparable or greater amount of essential nutrients typically found in dairy milk, such as calcium, vitamin D and protein. Similar research2​ assessing the UK plant-based dairy

The newly-rebranded Arla Jord sports three ‘source of’ claims

 alternatives market concluded that dairy milk ‘contained more energy, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamin B2, vitamin B12 and iodine, and less fibre and free sugars, than plant-based milk alternative’. And a study3​ examined plant-based alternatives sold in Singapore and Australia and found that only one third of plant-based alternatives sold in Australia contained a similar calcium content to dairy milk and across the entire sample of more than 900 products, dairy milks were found to be higher in energy, protein, total and saturated fat, total carbohydrates and sugar.

Meanwhile, some healthcare professionals have been raising concerns about the ‘nutritional adequacy’ of alternatives and whether consumers can spot the differences. A US study4​ that analyzed the responses of US health professionals found that three fourths believed shoppers were confused about the nutritional differences between dairy and plant-based alternatives, but many also believed that alternatives could be part of a healthy diet.

As for regulation, current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends milk and fortified soy beverages as part of a healthy diet due to their nutritional similarity to milk. “When shopping for [plant-based milk alternative] products at the grocery store, it’s a good idea to take a look at the Nutrition Facts label and choose products that are higher in protein, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium and lower in saturated fat and added sugars,” suggests the US Food and Drug Administration.