Plant-based milk is skyrocketing in popularity at Mid North Coast cafes but dairy farms believe there will always be a place for full cream.
"Kate Caters" has had to broaden its options for alternative milks, due to customer demand.
After starting with just soy, they've now got macadamia, oat and rice.
Owner Kate Mitchell said they chose to stock macadamias instead of almond milk to support Australian farms.
Oat and macadamia milks are proving to be equal in popularity when it comes to what customers want added to their beverage of choice.
"It's probably getting up to about half of the volume of regular milk purchases," Kate said. "Which is huge."
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the amount of dairy and meat substitutes purchased from Australian supermarkets and other food retailers jumped another 14 per cent in 2020-21, following a 14 per cent increase between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Kate hopes there will always be a place for full cream.
"Farmers need our support, especially at the moment," she said.
Mid North Coast dairy farmer Emily Neilson is based at Johns River south of Port Macquarie, where she lives with her husband Matt and sons Joseph and Henry.
She labelled the popularity of alternative milks as a "craze".
"People always go after the new thing."
Emily said it is hard to predict what value people might put on dairy in the future, but hopes they appreciate the quality of local milk.
Chris Eggert from Oxhill Organics at Redbank near Wauchope, is not convinced that plant-based milk farming benefits the environment.
On the Eggerts' organic dairy farm the cows eat from the pastures, fertilise the soil and the grass regenerates itself.
Chris said it's important to care for the microbes in the soil, to benefit the river systems and air quality.
Benmar Farm is located at Hannam Vale, south of Port Macquarie, and produces sustainable milk from humanely-raised cows.
It's run by Karyn Cassar and Carissa Wolfe who say it is great cafes are catering for a wider range of preferences.
However, they would like to see more include the option of certified organic cow's milk for people who choose on ethical and climate impact considerations and would like to know: "exactly which farms contributed, how they farm and their impact, as well as total food-miles farm to shelf."
Peak Coffee Australia owner and director of Cafe Culture International, Sean Edwards attributes the rise of popularity of plant-based milks to lifestyle.
He credited Instagram Influencers and diet culture movements with having a huge effect on how people view plant-based milks.
Sean has worked for majority of the plant-based milk businesses globally and said 30 per cent of all cafe drinks are now plant-based.
However, he believes there's always going to be a place for dairy.
"Dairy hasn't lost volume, it's just lost market share," he said.
Sean said almond milk is still the most popular choice for cafe customers but demand for oat milk has increased exponentially.
"It's gone from 2 per cent in market a year ago to now 30 per cent," he said.
He said the reason for the increase is because it's similar in taste and texture to dairy.
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