US standards of identity 'limit' domestic dairy growth, WhiteWave CEO claims


- Last updated on GMT

WhiteWave Foods chief, Engles, claims that the US is "woefully lagging" in its advancement of the dairy industry.
WhiteWave Foods chief, Engles, claims that the US is "woefully lagging" in its advancement of the dairy industry.

Related tags Milk

US standards of identity for dairy have “served to limit the size of the domestic market” by protecting existing categories at the expense of new, innovative products, WhiteWave Foods chairman and CEO Gregg Engles has claimed.

In his recent SupplySide Beverage Insight report​, the former Dean Foods chairman and CEO said that “by pushing manufacturers and marketers into other food forms in order to deliver the product attributes consumers want” ​these regulations have restricted the growth of the US dairy market.

Standards of identity for food are the mandatory federal requirements that determine what a product must or must not contain to be marketed under a certain name.

According to Engles, the existing standards are built on the concept that milk is “nature’s perfect food."

“Don’t get me wrong, dairy is great food,” ​he said. “But in an era of exploding consumer choice and information, the notion that one food is perfect, and that consumers are easily confused about ingredients or source materials, is both incorrect and limiting.”

Consumer calorie concerns

idfa petition request

The US standard of identity for milk hit the headlines earlier this year when a dairy industry-requested amendment to the regulation was met by opposition from nutrition experts and consumers.

The petition, published in the US Federal Register by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2013, asked an amendment to the standard to allow milk flavouring ingredients to be sweetened with “any safe and suitable sweetener.” ​If approved, flavoured milk product manufacturers will no longer be required to indicate on front-of-pack labels that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, have been added.

The petitioners, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), claim that approving the amendment will help stem the current milk consumption decline in US schools.

Engles gave his backing to the proposed amendment, and claimed that a “meaningful amount”​ of the recent decline in fluid milk volumes could be attributed to consumers switching to lower-calorie alternatives.

“Yet industry regulations, based on standards of identity, prevent manufacturers from removing the lactose (which isn't very sweet) and replacing it with a lesser amount of either sucrose or a non-nutritive sweetener, while still using the descriptor ‘milk’.”

“If the standards are not changed, consumers concerned about calories will continue to go elsewhere,” ​he said.

US dairy advancement “lagging”

Engles also questioned the effectiveness of the country’s existing class pricing system and its dairy price support structure.

The latter, Engles claimed, has negatively impacted the global competitiveness of the US dairy industry.

As a result of these pricing policies and standards, the US dairy industry “spends more time thinking about how to divide the pie, and less time thinking about how to grow it,”​ he said.

“For an industrialized nation, the United States is woefully lagging in its advancement of the dairy industry."

“An outdated regulatory environment has resulted in unfair competitive advantages for some segments – and penalties for others. Unless a handful of underlying key issues are addressed, dairy is unlikely to ever reach its full potential,”​ he added.

Related topics Markets Fresh Milk

Related news


Industry Competition v Nutritional Needs of Consumers in all areas of food

Posted by Sandy Lee,

I am so tired of listening to CEO's complaining about how restrictions in labeling and production are hindering greater success in the "global market". First of all, where is it written that any food, plant or animal, should last for as long as it takes to sell everything. The idea of "Too Big to Fail" is a contagion to the spirit of producing and maintaining a healthy population. We all know what it does to banks, and now it has become an inconvenience to milk producers to adhere to the few regulations that still exist impactinging the use of sweetener additives to milk . Yes it may result in unfair advantages in a global market but HEALTH is NOT an industry. It is a necessity. If your family was allergic or having adverse reactions to the sweeteners you want to hide in the milk, would you ignore them and have them drink it anyway? I think not. Family and country above all. I believe that is the only way to maintain integrity in all that we do. Stop this grandiose thinking and take care of the people you have in your family and in your employ. Ths antiquated thinking that every business has to be all about the money. When it comes to food and health this is not and should never be true. It is all about the people. If you cannot recognize and respect their needs you are already a failure. Food and health are sensitive necessities. The plants and animals that provide the products that keep us going must also be handled with as much care and concern as the consumers. If you cannot do that, go into an industry that makes THINGS. THen , at the least, you might do far less damage to yourself and your consumers.

Report abuse

Milk isalready a junk food--not a real food.

Posted by Windy Daley of Texas,

In my opinion:
The consumption of junk-food milk is declining because people are beginning to realize the food industries' lies and propaganda. The junk/processed food industries have enslaved Americans into unhealthy eating habits with addictive additives. Many Americans are slaves to the fast food industry. How much aspartame does Mr. Engles consume? Bet he eats as natural as he can--but wishes to enslave his fellow Americans with junk food and additives to increase his pay.
We need to boycott milk--and the health of a nation will improve. Thank goodness for the awakening Health Consciousness of Americans. It's just a matter of time and men like Mr. Engles will lose their power. For real health, boycott milk.

Report abuse


Posted by Carroll Wade,

Mr Engles competition seem to be able to work within the present guidelines and make profits . I think Engles is more concerned about greater profits for his stockholders than about having a holsun and natural product for the customer . Standards of identity also protect the producers of milk from shadey processors as well as the consumer who does want to know that their food is real and not some man made concoction .

Report abuse