In a world of “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” plant-based marketing combines all three.
A pro tip: When reading about the alleged competition between dairy products and plant-based beverages, carefully note whether the statistics being used are based on value – the amount of money people spend on something — or volume, the amount of a product people actually drink. Both have their use — but they are often used by vegan advocates to paint an inaccurate picture of what consumers prefer.
Plant-based activists like to measure by value, with its built-in bias toward more expensive products. But slick marketing campaigns cost a lot of money. Thus, plant-based beverages cost more than dairy: $6.95 per gallon on average this year, versus $4.12 per gallon for milk. So far this year (through June 14), milk sales are $6.96 billion, while consumers spent $1.16 billion on overpriced plant-based beverages – that’s 86 percent of the pie compared to 14 percent. Put this way, milk outsells plant-based by a 6 to 1 margin when calculated by value.
But that’s not a measure of what people are drinking. Milk isn’t consumed by dollars, it’s consumed by people. To understand consumer preferences, volume is the clear determinator. Through mid-June, consumers have bought 1.7 billion gallons of milk, a figure that’s outpacing last year because of rising retail demand. Plant based alternatives? 0.17 billion gallons year-to-date. Measuring by volume, the percentages are 91 percent and 9 percent — more than 10 to 1 in favor of milk.
But we still need to confront it, because a fair marketplace is a transparent marketplace. And p.r. hype using disingenuous numbers isn’t transparent – until you explain it for what it is, and show how the statistics are used to support all the damned lies.