Peanut milk concept with 'smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel' is under development, says National Peanut Board

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: National Peanut Board
Picture: National Peanut Board

Related tags Almond milk Milk Fda

Almond milk sales continue to grow in the double digits, while cashew milk is gaining momentum, but what about peanut milk? There’s no major commercial product out yet, but a concept is being developed, says the National Peanut Board (NPB). 

NPB CEO and president Bob Parker told FoodNavigator-USA: “We can’t comment on specific company activities with peanut milk but a concept has been developed.”

He added:

  • The peanut milk concept delivers 8 grams of plant-based protein per serving – comparable to dairy milk;
  • It contains all-natural ingredients, with 30 essential vitamins and nutrients;
  • It is fortified with calcium;
  • It has a smooth, slightly creamy mouth feel and taste similar to cow’s milk;
  • Efforts have been made to not have a strong peanut flavor to maintain a more neutral profile so it works in the same applications as almond milk and cow’s milk.

Asked what was in it and when it might come to market, he said: “Peanut milk has market potential but the ingredients and timeline to market is proprietary.”

Dairy milk alternatives

According to data ​from SPINS collected for Nutrition Business Journal, 2014 sales of dairy milk alternatives topped $1.6bn in 2014.

Almond milk​ took the top spot with retail sales of $893.3m, up 31% on the previous year; followed by soy milk​ at $322.1m (down 15.5%); coconutmilk​ at $101.1m (+16.9%); rice milk at $58.63m (-8%); hemp milk​ at $8.7m (+9.7%); and oat milk​ at $5.4m (+4.4%). The balance was taken up by hazelnut, multigrain milk alternatives​, and other miscellaneous products.

WhiteWave Foods, which has recently launched cashew milk under the Silk brand, said it was performing well.

Speaking on the firm’s Q1 earnings call last week, CEO Gregg Engles said: “It has been the fastest distribution build in Silk history with an ACV that now stands at over 85%. We are further expanding our cashew-based offerings to include vanilla and a chocolate flavor variety that are both great tasting and low in calories.”

Can you call plant-based beverages 'milk'?

After some commentators on our site queried whether it was legal for plant-based beverages sold in the US to describe themselves as ‘milk’ (almondmilk, cashewmilk etc), FoodNavigator-USA sought clarification from the FDA.

A spokesman said: “The standard of identity for ‘milk’ is in 21 CFR § 131.110​[the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows]. 

He added: “The agency does not have a specific regulation that authorizes the use of the names you referenced (i.e., ‘almondmilk’, ‘soymilk’, ‘peanutmilk’, or ‘cashewmilk’).  FDA’s regulations regarding common or usual names for food, including those names FDA has established by regulation, can be found in 21 CFR Part 102​.”

CA court found terms such as almond milk and coconut milk did not mislead consumers

While many people in the dairy industry are not happy with companies using terms such as almond milk, the issue had been tested in the courts via consumer litigation fairly recently, David Biderman, a partner in Perkins Coie’s Consumer Class Action Defense practice, told FoodNavigator-USA.

For example, a class action (3:13-cv-01953) filed against WhiteWave Foods alleging that terms such as almondmilk, soymilk, and coconutmilk were misleading, was dismissed by a California federal judge in 2013.

Said Biderman: “The court held that the soymilk and related terms met the common and usual name requirements of the FDA. The court also found it implausible that consumers would be confused by these names and rejected any claim that these names were a violation of the FDA regulations defining milk.”

In the order dismissing the case, the judge said: “The Court agrees with Defendants that the names "soymilk," "almond milk," and "coconut milk" accurately describe Defendants' products. As set forth in the regulations, these names clearly convey the basic nature and content of the beverages, while clearly distinguishing them from milk that is derived from dairy cows.

“Moreover, it is simply implausible that a reasonable consumer would mistake a product like soymilk or almond milk with dairy milk from a cow.”

Asked about labeling, National Peanut Board Marketing & Communications Manager Lauren Highfill Williams said: “Peanut milk would be labeled in the same way as other nut milk and non-dairy milks. Coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc.” 

*The case is Alex Ang & Kevin Avoy et al vs WhiteWave Foods Company 3:13-cv-01953 

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Editor's note

Posted by Elaine Watson,

I have updated this article with some information regarding the use of the term 'milk' to describe plant-based beverages in response to the commentator below

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Speaking as one myself...

Posted by Libby,

...a million peanut allergy moms just plotzed.

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Editor beware

Posted by P. Jelen,

Food editors should know that according to the Codex Alimentarius the word "milk" must not be used when describing concoctions made by grinding plant materials in water. The word is restricted to fluids produced by the mammary gland of a lactating female mammal.

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