As an example, many plant-based alternatives (such as almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk) are not suitable as a replacement for milk for children under the age of five. In New Zealand, they must be labelled as such in recognition that they are not nutritionally equivalent to milk.
That said, we also recognise that the needs of people tomorrow will be different from today, and there is a critical role for dairy to play in this.
With the need to feed another one billion people by 2030, the nutrients from animals and plants – or potentially algae, insects, and through new cellular and fermentation technologies – will ultimately be complementary, rather than competitive.
While they might compete on the shelf, it’s hard not to see how they will be complementary as part of the overall food system.
In fact, we are working with a group of New Zealand organisations to develop a model of the global food system that helps to demonstrate that animal and plant-based food production is complementary.