Dairy-Free Milk is the Biggest Dietary Fad of Last Decade in Canada, Says New Data

Canadians are drinking significantly less milk than they once did, according to new data obtained by Statistics Canada.

The report, analyzed by CBC News, focuses on food availability in Canada since 1960, which is measured as the total retail weight of foods divided by the population. The data shows that nearly 60 years ago there were more than 70 liters of full-fat milk for every Canadian, today, however, that number is around 10. Skim milk and two-percent milk are also on the decline, though on a smaller scale.

“When you look at demographic changes, economic changes, trade changes and health messages, you understand food changes,”  explained Malek Batal, a professor of public nutrition at the University of Montreal.“These are also changes in dietary habits. Canadians used to drink milk with their meals.”

“But the biggest dietary fads in last 10 years have been two things: dairy and gluten, with people saying we’re not cows, that we’re not supposed to be drinking milk,” Batal continued. In recent years, many celebrities and activist groups have spoken out about the cruelties of the dairy industry. Additionally, a growing number of individuals are increasingly concerned with possible health risks associated with dairy. Many also cite sustainability as a reason to drink less milk.

cow in field

CBC News notes that the data does not show how much food was consumed, just how much was available to eat prior to spoilage. However, food data analyst Evelyn Park added that the decrease in availability of certain products is “an indirect indicator of consumer trends.”

Consumption of fluid milk has also dropped significantly in the U.S. According to recent data, cow’s milk sales have declined 9.7 percent over the last five years, while sales of plant-based milk have increased by 61 percent in the same time span.

The sudden shift in consumer habits has disrupted the industry, forcing industry giants such as Arla Foods and Dean Foods to sever contracts with dairy farms. Whilst Dean Foods largely remains a dairy corporation, it is currently an investor in Colorado-based flax milk brand Good Karma Foods and is considering becoming a major shareholder. However some dairy brands have the made the leap, for example, former Queens-based dairy producer Elmhurst ditched cow’s milk entirely and has ventured into making minimally-processed plant-based milk.