The healthy choice is milk: food scientist

Zach RelphCountryman
The Daubney family's Bannister Downs Dairy will host Western Dairy's innovation day on May 16.
Camera IconThe Daubney family's Bannister Downs Dairy will host Western Dairy's innovation day on May 16. Credit: Sitevisuals

Dairy milk is a “nutritional powerhouse” which trumps plant-based milk products, according to a leading health scientist who is calling on the re-invention of milk marketing to promote the industry.

Anneline Padayachee, a Queensland-based nutritional food scientist, is highlighting opportunities for dairy brand reinvigoration in an effort to fend off the rise of alternative “mylk” varieties.

Ahead of speaking at Western Dairy’s 20th annual innovation day next Thursday at Northcliffe, Dr Padayachee told Countryman it was critical for the sector to champion dairy milk’s nutritional importance.

“When it comes to nutrition and health, milk is extremely beneficial,” she said.

“Comparing the value proposition of plant-based milks and what they offer consumers (to dairy milk) allows the dairy sector to understand how to repositions itself as a nutritional powerhouse.

“From a nutritional perspective, dairy milk is extremely high quality in terms of the nutrients to be absorbed, broken down and utilised — we have to message that to consumers.”

Australia’s traditional dairy milk industry is facing increasing threats from alternative milk products, known as “mylk”, including soy milk, almond milk, oat milk and rice milk.

The growing demand for alternative varieties has been primarily driven by millennials seeking products with superfood status and the mounting popularity of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

Dr Padayachee said milk offered more than calcium benefits, deeming it a “great source of proteins and healthy fats”.

Dr Padayachee called on milk processors and dairy farmers to be transparent during the supply chain to market the industry’s importance.

“Consumers are not what they used to be,” she said.

“Consumers want to know about the health side but they also want open transparency from the processor and the farmer.

“It is important for processors and producers to understand who it is their product is going to and while they might not be involved directly in marketing, they can influence that.”

More than 400 farmers and industry representatives are expected to attend Thursday’s Western Dairy innovation day at Bannister Downs and Westland Acres dairies in Northcliffe.

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