Non-dairy milk has skyrocketed in popularity due to consumer demand over the past few years. According to data from SPINS, plant-based milk currently represents 40% of all milk sold, up from 34% in 2018.
In South Africa, it has however become more expensive to drink coffee if you are lactose intolerant or just allergic to cow milk. From Vida e Caffè, Woolworths, Seattle, and others you are now expected to pay R5 or more for alternative milk like oat and almond milk. Vida e Caffè started with free alternative milk and then introduced a fee. Truth Coffee, one of Cape Town’s most iconic roasteries, has decided to do away with additional charges for dairy alternatives. Oat, macadamia, and almond milk will now be available at no extra cost.
In recent years, milk alternatives have become increasingly popular, making Truth’s decision to offer them for free a step in the right direction. For many people, forgoing dairy is a health decision as well as an ethical one, and consumers have made it clear that paying more for their preferred alternative milk bothers them deeply. Truth has listened to its customers and is offering a sustainable solution.
“Whether they choose alternative milk because it’s good for the planet, for the sake of their health, or just because it tastes good, our customers are passionate about their preference. And we’re passionate enough about our coffee to get this – you need your cup served exactly to your joy,” says David Donde, owner of Truth.
This decision by Truth is a step in the right direction as people who choose alternative milk should not be punished for their choice.
Other coffee companies in other parts of the world have also decided to not charge for alternative milk. They’ve indicated that dairy milk is far worse for the climate and that because rates of lactose intolerance are higher for some races, the alternative milk surcharge also perpetuates unfairness.
Other coffee companies in South Africa ought to learn from the lesson of Truth and global coffee companies. Globally, there’s a growing criticism for charging more for alternative milk. Local coffee companies would do well to apply fairness and reward their patrons for choosing a healthier lifestyle.
Some coffee company owners have claimed that the price of alternative milk is higher hence they are charging more. The great news is that economists who study the industry have indicated that in the long term, the prices for plant-based milk might go down as the size of the industry increases, allowing for more competition in the market.