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Lawsuit Filed Against Blue Diamond Says Almond Milk Is Not Primarily Made with Almonds

Lawsuit Filed Against Blue Diamond Says Almond Milk Is Not Primarily Made with Almonds

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The lawsuit states that almonds comprise only two percent of Blue Diamond’s almond milk


A lawsuit has been filed in New York against Blue Diamond, claiming that the almond milk labels are misleading.

Two people have filed a lawsuit against Blue Diamond accusing them of falsely advertising their Almond Breeze almond milk, according to Food Navigator.

The plaintiffs, Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis, filed the lawsuit in New York. They state that the company claims their almond milk is made “primarily from almonds,” but that almonds account for only two percent of the beverage, which is mostly made up of water, sugar, carrageenan, and sunflower lecithin.

Though there is no official rule about how many almonds should be in almond milk, the lawsuit states that “Upon an extensive review of the recipes for almond milk on the Internet, the vast majority of the recipes call for one part almond and three or four parts water, amounting to 25 to 33 percent of almonds.”

Therefore, the plaintiffs say that Blue Diamond’s almond milk advertising is misleading because people are led to believe that it is made primarily with almonds when it is not.

In 2012, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority addressed a similar problem when some shoppers complained that almond milk labels were misleading. The ASA said, “We considered that, while consumers might not be aware of exactly how almond milk was produced, they were likely to realize… that the production of almond milk would necessarily involve combining almonds with a suitable proportion of liquid to produce a ‘milky consistency.’”

Buyer Beware: Almond Milk

We recently published this beauty food recipe on how to upgrade your almond milk. The simple, delicious recipe spurred many readers to Ask Charlotte a flurry of questions about almond milk—should you really be drinking it? What brands should you buy? If you make your own, what can be done with all those leftover almonds? We tackle your questions, plus cover some things you never even thought about.


There’s a lot of debate on dairy vs. nut milks. Aside from the obvious reasons including lactose intolerance or a vegan lifestyle, should you really be drinking almond milk? Just like anything in life, there are pros and cons.

A quick poll of Charlotte’s Book nutritionists will tell you that nut milks are the preferred dairy substitute for those that are vegan or with lactose allergies. And there is a reason that nearly all of the health coaches at Eleven Eleven Wellness use it in their morning routines. Almond milk is lower in calories than other milks as long as it’s unsweetened it’s also free of cholesterol, saturated fat, and of course is naturally lactose free.

The drawback: even though almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not. Almond milk is also not a good source of calcium, and protein and calcium are certainly things that Charlotte needs to stay strong, healthy, and glowing.


There has been heated debate online regarding the nutritional value of almond milk. Last summer, in a piece titled “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters,” Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott calculated that an entire 48-ounce jug of Califia Farms almond milk contains the same amount of protein as a mere handful of the nuts. His conclusion: “The almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.”

In June 2015, consumers filed a class-action lawsuit against Blue Diamond Growers, the makers of Almond Breeze, alleging that the company falsely markets the drink as if it is primarily made from almonds when, in fact, it is composed of only 2 percent almonds, with water, sugar, and additives making up most of the rest. Silk, produced by White Wave, is undergoing a similar class-action lawsuit, but it’s important to note that Silk doesn’t contain carrageenan more on that next.

Does this mean almond milk is terrible for you? Well, no, but it does mean you should be reading the label of your almond milk very carefully. And you should probably consider making it yourself and/or making sure you supplement your diet with enough calcium and protein.


Charlotte’s Book expert nutritionist Dana James says, “Homemade almond milk has the added benefit of no carrageenan, a questionable preservative, often in the pre-packaged almond milk, and you can choose your preferred sweetener.”

If you don’t have time to make it yourself, the safest, best almond milks are organic, non-GMO, unflavored, unsweetened, and free of carrageenan. Beber organic almond milk fits the bill, and so does Whole Foods 365 almond milk.

As mentioned above, despite the fact that it’s included in the lawsuit, Silk is carrageenan free: they don’t offer an organic option, but it’s a readily available, unflavored, sugar- and GMO-free option.


Dana James warns, “If you’re eating almonds twice or more a day, you’re over-exposing yourself to almonds, much like we did with gluten. All over-exposure poses a risk for a food sensitivity and therefore chronic inflammation in the body.”

“Almonds [like gluten] are abrasive to the digestive tract. While no research has yet been done on almonds causing leaky gut, one could certainly infer that this could be the case. If we look at IBD and diverticulosis patients, they are advised to avoid nuts to reduce the incidence of flare ups. Ironically, these same patients are only now being advised to avoid gluten.” In other words, enjoy your almonds and your almond milk, but everything in moderation—that’s key.


• 1 teaspoon of maple Syrup

Put almonds, water and maple syrup into a blender and blend for 1 minute. Take the mesh bag and pour milk through it, into a glass bottle. Squeeze the bag and extract the left-over nut mixture (this can be used for gluten-free bread).


“Absolutely, you can use the almonds!” says Charlotte’s Book expert Dana James. Thinking of freezing them? “I don’t know what the consistency will be like once the frozen almond milk has been defrosted, but, nutritionally, it is perfectly fine and they still retain value.”

James recommends using the leftover almond pulp to make raw zucchini hummus and oatmeal. You can also make raw, gluten-free bread. Let the experimenting begin!

Almond Breeze Faces False Advertising Lawsuit Claiming Its Milk Only Has 2% Real Almonds

Sorry, almond milk lovers: According to a class action lawsuit filed in New York this past May (and recently amended on July 14), these popular items are more full of lies than they are actual almonds.

As FoodNavigator-USA reported Wednesday, a pair of brave citizens are squaring off against Blue Diamond Growers, the largest processor and marketer of almonds in the world (according to their company website) in civil court. The plaintiffs, Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis, are claiming that Blue Diamond’s almond milk brand, Almond Breeze, has been fraudulently advertising itself as primarily containing almonds, when in actuality, it only contains about two percent.

According to the amended complaint, available to the public, Albert and Malaxianis were avid almond milk lovers — Albert even residing in California, where Blue Diamond helps produce a significant amount of the almonds grown in the U.S. every year. However, they became shocked when they learned that their Almond Breeze, according to nutritional information displayed by its UK counterpart, only contained two percent real almond. No such disclosure exists on the U.S. side of the almond milk aisle.

“Defendant is using its website to lead distributors, grocery stores, restaurants, consumers and other buyers and resellers of almond milk in the United States to believe that their almond milk branded products are primarily made from almonds,” read their complaint. “Said information from Defendant’s website has created a false perception amongst the public that Defendant’s almond milk labeled products are premium products that are healthy for you because they are primarily made from almonds.”

Regardless of the outcome, the civil case, filed in New York because of Malaxianis’s residency there, is coming at a time when almond milk has become incredibly popular. An article referenced by the complaint notes that sales of almond milk cleared over $700 million last year, with Blue Diamond the top dog (the original suit also named Whitewave Foods, which produces Silk, a brand that now includes almond milk). According to research they conducted online, the average amount of almond that should be found in almond milk is around 25 to 35 percent.

The two, fighting on behalf of themselves and “all other persons in the United States” who have ever purchased Almond Breeze, are claiming the company has committed unfair and deceptive business practices, false advertising, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

It’s tough to say whether their effort will bear any fruit (juice), but the debacle does seem fairly reminiscent of past labeling battles, such as sugary cereal advertisements that claimed health benefits and Coca Cola’s attempt to market a juice drink as filled with pomegranate and blueberry when it actually only contained about 0.3 and 0.2 percent of each, respectively.

In the meantime, it’s at least a piece of ammunition that you can throw out in an argument about why you don’t like almond milk.

Quiz: What’s the Main Ingredient in Almond Milk?

Are you an almond milk lover? Would you be surprised to find out that your creamy beverage of choice is mostly made of water, sugar, carrageenan and sunflower lecithin?

That’s the premise of a new false advertising lawsuit, which claims that Blue Diamond almond milk, sold as Almond Breeze, contains a scant 2 percent almonds, FoodNavigator-USA reports.

The lawsuit, filed in New York, argues that Blue Diamond is misleading consumers into thinking Almond Breeze is made primarily from almonds with the phrase “made from real almonds” and the pictures of almonds on its packaging.

Although the lawsuit doesn’t specify what percentage of almonds the beverage should contain, it does say “upon an extensive review of the recipes for almond milk on the Internet, the vast majority of the recipes call for one part almond and three or four parts water, amounting to 25-33 percent of almonds.”

The Blue Diamond website lists these ingredients for the original Almond Breeze: almond milk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E).

Although Blue Diamond doesn’t divulge the percentage of almonds in its almond milk in the United States, its UK website lists 2 percent almonds.

When a similar issue arose in the UK three years ago, Time reported that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority ultimately decided that consumers understood how much water was required to make almond milk: “We considered that, whilst consumers might not be aware of exactly how almond milk was produced, they were likely to realize… that the production of almond milk would necessarily involve combining almonds with a suitable proportion of liquid to produce a ‘milky’ consistency.”

In a statement to Time, Blue Diamond said that water is the main ingredient in most beverages:

The primary ingredient in nearly all popular beverages including coffee, tea, soda, juice and sports drinks is water. Cow’s milk is 85 percent to 95 percent water and the same can be said for most soy and almond milks, which is why our brand is not alone in responding to recent claims.

Do you drink almond milk? Are you surprised that the creamy beverage potentially contains just 2 percent almonds? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for the New Economy Daily newsletter, follow us @economics and subscribe to our podcast.Turkey’s economy has grown at a strong pace this year, outperforming most large economies as it recovers from the pandemic -- an expansion that’s come at the expense of price and currency stability.Turkey grew faster than all Group of 20 nations except for China in the first quarter after nearly stalling a year ago when Covid-19 struck. It’s been bolstered by robust consumption on the back of last year’s government-led push to cut interest rates and boost lending.Gross domestic product rose 7% from a year earlier and 1.7% from the fourth quarter. The median of 22 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey was for 6.3% growth compared to the same period in 2020.There is an “exchange rate illusion” in Turkey’s economic growth data, said Enver Erkan, chief economist at Istanbul-based Tera Yatirim. GDP per capita in U.S. dollar terms has dropped nearly 40% since 2013 to around $7,700 last year, making Turkey’s economic model unsustainable as the growth is mainly driven by government spending and efforts to boost lending, he said.The government encouraged banks to ramp up loans to help businesses and consumers ride out last year’s Covid-19 crisis. The credit boom was coupled with a front-loaded easing cycle. That growth push weakened the currency by 20% last year and kept headline inflation in double digits.The currency lost a further 10% against the dollar in the first quarter, particularly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the central bank’s hawkish governor Naci Agbal in March. The decision to fire Agbal, who had sought to restore the central bank’s credibility, set off a swift reversal of investor enthusiasm, sending Turkish markets into a nosedive.Below are some more highlights from the GDP report released by the state statistics institute in Ankara on Monday:Household consumption -- estimated to account for about two-thirds of the economy -- continues to be one of the main drivers of growth. It jumped 7.4% from a year earlier.The biggest contribution to growth came from manufacturing sector, which rose 12.2% in the first quarter on an annual basis.The size of the economy grew to $728.5 billion in the first quarter from $717 billion in current prices last year.Exports rose 3.3% on an annual basis. Imports dropped 1.1%.Gross fixed capital formation, a measure of investment by businesses, rose an annual 11.4%. Government spending rose 1.3% after a 6.6% jump in the previous quarter.The economy grew by 1.7% in the last quarter from the previous three months when adjusted for seasonality and the number of working days. Overall output rose 1.8% in 2020.The data expose the challenge facing new central bank Governor Sahap Kavcioglu as he looks to restore price stability without cooling the economy ahead of the general elections in 2023.Kavcioglu pledged policy continuity after his appointment and kept the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 19% for a second meeting this month, saying the pace of price gains had peaked in April. Consumer inflation quickened for a seventh month to 17.14% in April.There may be a limited drop in the pace of growth in the second quarter, according to Istanbul-based economist Haluk Burumcekci. “Uncertainties regarding the monetary policy makes it difficult to assess the upside risks on our growth expectation of 5.5% for 2021,” he said.(Updates with chart and more details in the bullets)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Sunak pushes Biden for tougher global tax deal

Rishi Sunak is pushing the United States to agree to tougher rules on the tax paid by tech giants as part of a global corporation tax overhaul. Finance ministers from the G7 will meet this week to thrash out the biggest reforms to global tax rules in a generation in a bid to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share. President Joe Biden has proposed a minimum global corporation tax rate of 15pc as well as new rules forcing the world's largest 100 companies to pay taxes based on the location of their customers, rather than where they book profits. The plans are aimed to preventing multinationals from shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions - a growing problem that is feared will deprive governments of revenues as they try to recover from the pandemic. However, the UK is holding out on backing America's plans for a minimum corporation tax rate as it seeks more assurances over the tax treatment of big tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google. The Chancellor told the Mail on Sunday: "We understand why an agreement on global corporation tax is important to our American friends. We need them to understand why fair taxation of tech companies is important to us. "There's a deal to be had and I'm urging the US - and all of the G7 - to come to the table next week and get it done."

Mortgage rates dip beneath 3% again, offering new refinance savings

Over 14 million mortgage holders can qualify to save on a refi, new data shows.

How Many Almonds Are Actually In Your Almond Milk?

Almond milk has become a staple in most healthy households-and for good reason. It has more calcium that cow&aposs milk and is a delicious dairy-free drink. But most of us assume that because 𠆊lmond&apos is in the name, we&aposre also reaping the heart healthy benefits of the nut. But a new lawsuit claims there may not actually be enough almonds in the drink to actually make that difference. (For more, see 13 Types of Milk That Do Your Body Good.)

Blue Diamond is being sued for falsely portraying that their widely popular almond milk, Almond Breeze, is made primarily from almonds when-the suers allege-the carton actually only contains two percent of the nut. That would make the majority of the milk alternative water, sugar, and a handful of additives like carrageenan, sunflower lechithin, and calcium carbonate. (Say what? Mystery Food Additives and Ingredients from A to Z.)

It&aposs their phrasing, "made from real almonds," along with the copious amounts of almonds on the packaging that is misrepresenting the true recipe, the lawsuit claims. Blue Diamond doesn&apost actually disclose how much almond is in Almond Breeze sold in the U.S., but the website for their U.K. version blatantly states that the nut makes up just twp percent of the milk, a number the plaintiffs are working off of.

When a similar case came up in Great Britain in 2012 against a different almond milk brand, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority said most shoppers understand almond milk requires a significant amount of water.

While this significant amount is pretty arbitrary, the new lawsuit doesn&apost actually specify what is acceptable either. They do note that the "vast majority of the recipes [on the internet] call for one part almond and three or four parts water, amounting to 25-33 percent of almonds."

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Reporters Story Leads to Almond Lawsuit Against Blue Diamond Growers

Blue Diamond Growers may blame a journalist for a recent putative class-action lawsuit that was filed in New York federal court against the agricultural cooperative.

Earlier this year, Business Insider's former news reporter Ryan Gorman sought to discover how many almonds are actually contained in a carton of almond milk. As he explained in an April 20, 2015 story, Gorman reached out to a number of sources in the almond industry, including Blue Diamond, but he wasn&rsquot getting anywhere. A source eventually advised the reporter to check product labels in the United Kingdom, and Gorman discovered that one brand of British almond milk contained just 2 percent almonds per carton.

I suppose class-action lawyers like a good story as much as the rest of us because Business Insider&rsquos piece garnered the attention of a law firm that has sued Blue Diamond. An amended lawsuit, filed earlier this month in the Southern District of New York, claims Blue Diamond has duped consumers by misrepresenting that its products are mostly made from almonds.

James Kelly, the class-action lawyer that has sued Blue Diamond, declared in the lawsuit that he made a discovery after the Business Insider story came to light: Blue Diamond discloses on packaging in the UK that its almond milk labeled products only contain 2 percent of almonds in the beverage. According to the lawsuit, Blue Diamond&rsquos almond milk is made predominantly from less costly ingredients, namely sunflower lecithin and carrageenan. The lawsuit claimed the latter ingredient has been linked to potential cancer and digestion problems.

Blue Diamond &ldquodiscloses to consumers in the United Kingdom that its almond milk labeled products contain 2% of almonds but does not disclose that to consumers in the United States," Kelly wrote in the lawsuit.

The named plaintiffs, Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis, seek to represent U.S. consumers who purchased Blue Diamond&rsquos almond labeled products from May 27, 2009 through the date of the complaint.

The lawsuit alleged the plaintiffs purchased Blue Diamond&rsquos products &ldquounder the impression that the almond milk labeled product was primarily made from almonds." Their purchasing decisions were &ldquobased on the statements and claims on the packaging of the said product and information in the marketplace that almond milk was healthy and a premium product because it was primarily made from almonds," according to the complaint.

Blue Diamond, the agricultural cooperative and marketing service specializing in almonds, cited its policy not to comment on pending litigation. Founded in 1910, the Sacramento, California-based coop says it is owned by half of the state's almond growers who produce more than 80 percent of the world almond supply.

The allegations in the current lawsuit resemble claims in a lawsuit between POM Wonderful and Coca-Cola. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow POM Wonderful to sue Coca-Cola for misleading consumers under a federal statute that is intended to prevent unfair competition.

Several years ago, POM accused Coca-Cola of duping consumers into believing a Minute Maid beverage contained mostly blueberry and pomegranate juices when in fact it contained very little of those substances. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out the drink consisted nearly entirely of apple and grape juices (99.4 percent), containing a mere 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice.

Lawsuit takes on Almond Breeze milk because it contains just 2 per cent almonds

YOU’D think that almond milk would contain mostly almonds, right? Wrong. An almond milk company is being sued in the US for allegedly making false advertising claims.

Almond Breeze milk is a popular brand of almond milk sold in Australia, the US and the UK. Almond milk has become trendy with the rise of the paleo movement, which eschews dairy. Source:Supplied

THE news that almond milk isn’t all it’s cracked to be should bring comfort to the rest of us normal people slumming it with cow’s or soy milk.

One of the world’s most popular almond milk brands, Blue Diamond Growers, is battling a false advertising lawsuit, reports Food Navigator.

Filed in New York on July 14, plaintiffs Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis claim Blue Diamond falsely portrays its best-selling Almond Breeze as being primarily made from almonds, when the seeds make up just 2 per cent of the total ingredients.

Spring water is the main ingredient in Almond Breeze, followed by almonds, calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, sea salt, stabiliser, carrageenan, emulsifier, sunflower lecithin and natural flavouring.

Almond milk has become popular recently due to the rise of the paleo movement, which does not allow dairy.

𠇋lue Diamond is selling products that are branded as almond milk and leading people to believe that the products are made primarily from almonds when the products only contain 2 per cent of almonds,” states the lawsuit, which argues the phrase “made from real almonds” and photos of almonds on the carton implies almonds are a main ingredient.

“Upon an extensive review of the recipes for almond milk on the internet, the vast majority of the recipes call for one part almond and three or four parts water, amounting to 25-33 per cent of almonds,” the lawsuit reads.

In the US, Blue Diamond does not disclose the amount of almonds in Almond Breeze. But in Australia and the UK, the ingredients list on Unsweetened Almond Breeze is 2 per cent. (You can buy it at Coles for $3.62, FYI).

This isn’t the first time narky almond milk lovers have kicked up a fuss.

In 2012, the UK Advertising Standards Authority dismissed a consumer complaint made against Alpro UK. The complaint was that the food company was misleading shoppers by calling its products almond milk, when they contained just 2 per cent almonds.

“We considered that, while consumers might not be aware of exactly how almond milk was produced, they were likely to realise that almonds could not be ‘milked’ and that the production of almond milk would necessarily involve combining almonds with a suitable proportion of liquid to produce a ‘milky’ consistency,” the ruling stated.

“We concluded that that the ads were unlikely to mislead consumers.”

The good news is that almond milk actually isn’t all that good for you anyway. Cow’s milk or soy milk for is always the preferred option, says Nutrition Australia Queensland senior nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan.

𠇊lmond milk, like oat milk and rice milk, has become very trendy,” Ms Hourigan said last year. “You don’t need to drink nut milks or soy milk,” she said. Case closed.

Bad News for Almond Milk Drinkers

The rapid growth in almond milk’s popularity has been unparalleled as of late. A lot of that’s got to do with people discovering they’re allergic to dairy and also finding out how harmful soy really is.

Almond milk grew at a record rate of consumption last year. According to Fox Business, sales were an estimated $854 million dollars in 2014, alcohol n increase of over 40.5% from the year previous.

That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing about almond milk.

It really is healthy for you.

That is assuming your almond milk is actually made of almonds…

That’s the problem millions of almond milk drinkers are running into.

Turns out a large majority of almond milk manufacturers are short-changing their customers. When almond milk is supposed to be made of little more than almond milk and water, most companies are creating concoctions where they blend almond milk, water, and a slew of other chemicals together before they bring it to market.

The problem’s so bad a class action lawsuit has been brought against the most popular manufacturer’s of the non-dairy milk alternative.

Here’s what Fox Business writes about the whole ordeal:

“The success of almond milk rests heavily on its health appeal to consumers, which attorney James C. Kelly says is part of the problem.

It’s being marketed as a healthy premium product because it is made from almonds, when it barely contains any almonds. The product is really developed from thickening agents to create a milk-like substitute that tastes very much like milk. The wrongdoing is really hitting home on a large scale,” he said.

Kelly’s clients, Tracy Albert and Dimitrios Malaxianis are suing two of the largest almond milk producers in the U.S., Blue Diamond, and WhiteWave (WWAV), which makes Silk and So Delicious, for improperly labeling their almond milk.

“She (Albert) is angry regarding the lack of almonds and the high amounts of carrageenan [a thickening agent]. She wants labeling changes in the industry. It will prevent other customers from being deceived and allow her and other consumers to determine how many servings to drink to achieve health benefits,” Kelly said.

Albert, who declined to speak with, is urging these corporations to come clean. She wants them to disclose on their packaging and websites that the products contain only 2% almonds, and remove all favorable health claims.

Here’s the deal when it comes to almond milk.

Provided your almond milk is made up of primarily almonds and water there really are some substantial health benefits to be gleaned from using it as a dairy substitute.

A typical half-gallon of almond milk should be made of anywhere from 144-192 almonds.

The top manufacturers of almond milk, companies like SO and Blue Diamond are only using 38-42 almonds per half-gallon.

That means anywhere from 70-80% of the almond milk is nothing more than thickeners and additives.

And some of these ingredients are even known to be irritating to the gut which obviously creates some additional problems of their own.

So what can you do to get the full benefits of almond milk?

It really is simple (I promise) and I’ve provided one of the better videos I’ve found on the subject below.

Dairy farmers think almond milk is bogus, Americans love it

1 of 3 U.S. sales of almond milk rose 4.2 percent last year while skim milk consumption fell 13 percent from a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s June data. The National Milk Producers Federation has been trying to get federal regulators to enforce laws on the books that say the word “milk” is reserved for lactation from a mammal. But they’re losing that battle, too, as almond milk gets turned into other imitation dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt. Justin Sullivan /Getty Images Show More Show Less

2 of 3 “The almond has become ubiquitous,” said Richard Waycott, CEO of the Modesto-based Almond Board of California, which represents 6,800 growers. “The demand for almonds has risen virtually in every market we serve.” Associated Press /File photo Show More Show Less

3 of 3 The real blow to dairy is the widespread replacement of cows for almond groves. California is tops in the U.S. for both dairy production (about one-third more than No. 2 Wisconsin) and almonds (80 percent of global output). Land in the state devoted to almond groves has been steadily rising — 350,000 acres added over the last decade, enough to double the crop to more than 2 billion pounds, according to Rabobank International — while the state lost about 10,000 milk cows this year through July, a 0.6 percent drop from 2015. Associated Press /File photo Show More Show Less

Milk, the kind from cows, is still Americans&rsquo favorite complement to a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. But it&rsquos feeling the heat from milk, the kind from almonds.

You can tell by the trash talk.

&ldquoYou can&rsquot get milk from an almond,&rdquo said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation. &ldquoYou have to add a lot of other ingredients to make it look like milk.&rdquo

Galen&rsquos correct, of course, as anyone who&rsquos ever attempted to milk an almond can attest. Almond milk usually contains only 2 percent almonds, with a lot of water, vitamins and gelling agents mixed in. But the numbers don&rsquot lie. U.S. sales of almond milk rose 4.2 percent last year to within sniffing distance of $1 billion, according to IRI data. At the same time, while Americans are drinking more organic and full-fat cow&rsquos milk, low-fat varieties are plunging, with skim milk consumption down 13 percent from a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture&rsquos June data.

But the real blow to dairy is the widespread replacement of cows for almond groves.

California is tops in the U.S. for both dairy production (about one-third more than No. 2 Wisconsin) and almonds (80 percent of global output). Land in the state devoted to almond groves has been steadily rising &mdash 350,000 acres added over the last decade, enough to double the crop to more than 2 billion pounds, according to Rabobank International &mdash while the state lost about 10,000 milk cows this year through July, a 0.6 percent drop from 2015.

Among the culprits: California&rsquos new higher minimum wage, which is crimping profit margins at labor-intensive dairies more than the groves, and mandatory water restrictions in the fertile Central Valley amid a years-long drought. That&rsquos pushed almond cultivation to places it&rsquos been rare before. Such as dairy farms.

In Bakersfield, California, Olam Farming Inc., part of Singapore-based Olam International, recently bought George Borba & Son&rsquos 1,550-acre mega-dairy and 8,000 cows were auctioned off in favor of almonds and pistachios.

Richard Wagner, whose father started the family dairy in Escalon, California, already has almond trees, but is putting in about 300 acres more this year. He&rsquos taking land away from growing alfalfa and corn for feeding cows.

&ldquoBack in the 1950s, there were no almond trees in our area,&rdquo he said. &ldquoNow there are almond trees everywhere. The economics for the trees has been very good. Dairymen have a decision.&rdquo

Chances are, pressure for weaker California dairies to sell out to nut producers will continue over the next five years, and those who don&rsquot sell will be installing groves, said Vernon Crowder, a Fresno, California-based senior vice president at Rabobank International.

Demand for nuts has gone insane. Asian countries import almonds in the shell. In the U.S., half the almonds sold are shaved into everything from ice cream to salads and tucked into energy bars. The other half of the market consists of whole-nut snacks. And snacking on nuts is increasing, according to Chicago-based research firm Technomic.

Almond milk is boosting the nut&rsquos popularity, too. Last year, Americans bought $890 million of the stuff, three times the amount of soy milk&rsquos $286 million, according to IRI. By contrast, consumers bought $9.2 billion of low-fat and skim milk.

Retailers have caught on to the trend. Starbucks Corp. is adding almond milk to its lineup of nonmilk alternatives, which already includes coconut and soy milk. And as of last month, Dunkin&rsquo Donuts offers it in all its stores.

Milk alternatives have faced scrutiny for not containing very many nuts or natural ingredients. WhiteWave Foods Co.&rsquos Silk brand of almond milk, for example, also contains sugar, salt, gellan gum and sunflower lecithin.

A lawsuit filed last year against Blue Diamond Growers, which supplies Dunkin&rsquo Donuts, said its almond milk contained just 2 percent almonds. Blue Diamond&rsquos U.K. website confirms the product&rsquos almond content. Water and sugar are listed as ingredients before almonds. Alicia Rockwell, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Among the biggest almond-milk sellers are WhiteWave and Blue Diamond, along with retailers such as Target Corp. and Aldi Inc. that have private-label brands. Niche companies are also riding the wave, like NüMoo Nut-Milks, which makes an organic, cold-milled chocolate almond milk.

The National Milk Producers Federation has been trying to get federal regulators to enforce laws on the books that say the word &ldquomilk&rdquo is reserved for lactation from a mammal. But they&rsquore losing that battle, too, as almond milk gets turned into other imitation dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.

The cow&rsquos-milk industry has turned to Olympic heroes to lead the battle against plant-based drinks. In Milk Life&rsquos newest ad campaign, Olympians including rugby star Perry Baker and swimmer Elizabeth Beisel tout milk&rsquos nutritional oomph, while cyclist Kristin Armstrong says milk &ldquomade me a stronger athlete.&rdquo

They&rsquore up against Silk-brand drinks that use Venus Williams and DJ Khaled as their #DoPlants spokespeople.

&ldquoThe almond has become ubiquitous,&rdquo said Richard Waycott, CEO of the Modesto-based Almond Board of California, which represents 6,800 growers. &ldquoThe demand for almonds has risen virtually in every market we serve.&rdquo


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