Most milk alternatives on Irish shelves are lower in protein than their dairy counterparts, while many are also lower in calcium, a new Safefood report has found.
Plant-based milk alternatives had only a third of the protein content of milk, while two-thirds of the products studied were not a protein source.
The calcium content of plant-based cheese alternatives was also lower.
According to the study, which examined the nutritional value of over 200 alternatives to milk, cheese and yogurt, 1 in 3 adults (33 percent) consume plant-based alternatives to dairy.
It was also found that more than four in ten (44%) people aged 15 to 24 regularly consume these products and that 1 in 5 (20%) chose them because they thought they were healthier.
Just under one in five (18 percent) said they chose dairy alternatives because they “wanted a change/change”, while one in seven (14 percent) did so because of their own milk intolerance or that of a family member.
Half (51 percent) of those who consume dairy alternatives agree they are better for the environment.
Safefood advises people, especially vegetarians and vegans, to check food labels before making a purchase and look for products that contain unsweetened and calcium-fortified protein sources.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in both the popularity and number of plant-based dairy alternatives on the market in recent years,” said Dr. Aileen McGloin, Director of Nutrition at Safefood.
“Our survey found that the protein content of the plant-based products we studied was, on average, lower than that of the dairy products. The calcium content of plant-based milk and yogurt was the same as that of dairy products, but lower in cheese. ”
“Because these products vary in nutritional value, I would advise people to check the labels…
“This can be especially important for those transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet.”
According to industry estimates, the UK plant-based milk alternatives market is worth around €284 million, with sales value increasing by 299 per cent in the last two years.
Sales of plant-based milks such as almond and oat milk increased by 40 per cent in Ireland in the 12 months between January 2018 and January 2019.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/plant-based-milk-only-has-a-third-of-the-protein-content-of-milk-safefood-study-finds-42042697.html According to the Safefood study, plant-based milk has only a third of the protein content of milk