The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board [AHDB] has denied claims that a £1.2 million campaign promoting dairy was devised to counter ‘vegan attacks’.
According to media reporting, the campaign – which will be led by Dairy UK and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board – was devised in retaliation to successful vegan initiatives, including Plant Based News’ World Plant Milk Day on August 22.
But in an interview with PBN, a spokesperson for the AHDB slammed these reports, saying: “The campaign hasn’t been unveiled as yet, and was actually first talked about 12 or more months ago and so, it’s incorrectly linked to the vegan campaigns.
“That copy [claiming there was a link] wasn’t checked with us before it went to print.
“It’s misleading to suggest it was a ‘fightback to vegans’ because the campaign was announced more than 12 months ago. We’ve just been finalizing the details and will unveil everything in a few weeks’ time.”
PBN asked AHDB whether the substantial sum of money set aside for the campaign reflects fear or panic within the dairy industry due to the increasing number of people turning away from ‘traditional’ milk toward plant milks.
Describing it as a ‘loaded question’, the spokesperson said: “I would point out that the dairy industry invests something of the order of about £140 million into promotion every year.
“When you see that in contrast, I think you’ll agree that £1.2 million is a significant amount of money, but there is also significant investment going on promoting dairy products in any event.”
While the organization says the campaign was conceived long before initiatives like World Plant Milk Day launched, the vegan milk sector has been booming for some time, with an increasing number of products hitting shelves, and the market value growing consistently.
Conversely, dairy milk has slumped in popularity.
Does the dairy industry feel squeezed by the growth of veganism?
“I don’t think it’s helpful to ask me to be drawn on responding to what pressure groups do,” he says. “Obviously, our role at AHDB is an evidence-based factual organization.
“That’s not the sort of matter we would get drawn into. We don’t get drawn on remarking on comments that are made from other organizations including pressure groups.”
This costly campaign is no surprise to those working in the vegan sector.
PBN Co-founder Robbie Lockie, who devised World Plant Milk Day, said: “The British dairy industry is losing its grip on the sector, as more people turn away from cow’s milk and choose plant-based alternatives instead.
“The industry often talks about ‘vegan propaganda’, which is ironic – as now it is attempting to circumvent grassroots activism with a million-pound dairy propaganda campaign.
“The facts are clear: humans do not need to consume cow’s milk.”