It seems like the dairy industry is slowly waking up to the fact that milk is going out of style. Last week, Dean Foods Company, the largest dairy producer in the United States known for its DairyPure brand, took a minority stake in plant-based milk and yogurt company Good Karma Foods. According to a report in Food Ingredients First, the investment will not only allow Good Karma to expand faster across the country but to also “increase investments in brand building and product innovation.”

Dean Foods Co. isn’t the first big company known for its dairy products to want a piece of the dairy-free industry, either. The company will be following in the footsteps of major food company Danone, which recently completed its purchase of WhiteWave Foods, producer of dairy-free brands such as So Delicious!, Silk, and Vega.

Why invest in the plant-based milk industry? The consumption of milk has been steadily declining by about 25 percent per capita since the mid-1970s. Conversely, the dairy-free industry has grown by 250 percent within the past five years — and that number hasn’t gone unnoticed. The future in the dairy-free space has so much potential, that some California dairy farmers have converted their farms to almond groves – not to mention, a century-old dairy company recently shut down and reopened as a plant-based milk company. With these developments, it’s really no surprise we’re seeing big companies like Danone and Dean Foods make major investments in dairy-free brands.

According to Ralph Scozzafava, CEO of Dean Foods, “One of the pillars of our strategic plan is to build and buy strong brands, and Good Karma embodies the exact type of opportunity we’re interested in as we look to add leading and high potential brands in adjacent growing categories such as plant-based beverages.” Good Karma CEO Doug Radi expressed his excitement about the investment: “This partnership validates that Good Karma has become one of the leading and fastest-growing brands to watch in the plant-based category. We are excited about how this partnership will give us the opportunity to advance our mission of inspiring goodness by making our flax-based non-dairy beverages and yogurts more accessible across the US.”

While some members of the dairy industry are trying to combat the plant-based milk industry’s rising success by claiming dairy-free milk can’t be called “milk,” others are realizing the best thing to do … if you can’t beat ’em is to join ’em!

Lead image source: Prepared Foods