- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Dairy farmers continue to struggle with declining business as the popularity of milk alternatives is continuing to rise.

Alternatives to dairy milk, which include almond milk, soy milk and rice milk, are becoming more popular for various reasons.

Madison’s Willy Street Co-op grocery category manager Dean Kallas said the biggest reason is due to dairy allergies, Wisconsin Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2fR5Tvk) reported. Some people, who are vegetarian or vegan, may opt for a milk substitute because they don’t want to drink dairy, said Kallas.

He said the co-op has recently introduced two new alternatives, split pea milk and hemp milk, which will also be thrown onto shelves.

Even with dairy milk sales continuing to dominate the market, Jordan Rost with the global marketing research firm Nielsen, says almond milk has an 8 percent growth rate. Another market research firm, BCC Research, said global market milk alternatives in 2014 reached $5.8 billion.

Tina Hinchley, a dairy farmer in Deerfield and a member of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, said the dairy industry is struggling because of the drop in milk prices, which are a lot lower now than they were a few years ago.

“It’s not only the almond milk - it’s the soy, it’s the rice, it’s all the different varieties of stuff. (And) now you have juices as well in the dairy case,” she said.

She noted that any option kids can consume is competition for the milk industry.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, https://www.wpr.org

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