Soy, almond, coconut, lactose free, rice, hemp, cashew are some, but not all the different types of alternative milk varieties that can commonly be found in cafés and restaurants around the country nowadays, as the rise of food allergies and individual preferences change amongst diners.
As annoying as it is to baristas and business owners, it’s a sign of the times and that customers are now savvier than ever about what they fuel their bodies with.
For some consumers it’s due to necessity, and for others it’s a lifestyle choice. Whatever the reason, alternative varieties are here to stay, as are food allergies and dietary requirements for vegos, pesos and vegans.
I have been lactose intolerant from a young age before alternative varieties were cool or mainstream… There wasn’t much option out there to buy alternatives in the supermarket, let alone in a café. You’d be lucky to find soy milk on a café menu, and having alternatives to dairy based cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream just wasn’t an option.
But as times have changed, so has the food industry. We now see a variety of alternative food and drink options to cater for everything from coeliac to just fussy eaters.
In my mid-teens, I started working in a café making coffee, and at the time we did have soy milk and we charged accordingly for it. An extra 50c I believe, which at the time I could see a fair case for it.
But now I don’t believe that we should be charging extra for mainstream alternative milks. Yes, there is a need to offer varieties other than cow’s milk, but why it is still charged as an additional cost to the end consumer is beyond me.
I can understand that there are a bunch of different options to cater to, and some are more expensive, however cafés and restaurants need to decide on what they are going to stock, and be OK with charging the same for a cup of coffee with soy milk, or with cow’s milk.
Why? Because milks like these are so mainstream nowadays that it is no longer the arguments of price difference, different jugs needing to be used, wastage, etc, etc. It should just be considered mainstream to stock those items. If you drink an alternative milk variety, you will know what I mean, and you will know that you generally pay 50c to $1 more than cow’s milk.
If there was to be a price factored in, it should be factored into the overall price of all the items.
After many years working in eating establishments, cafés, bars, etc. I do understand how dietary requirements can be painful to kitchen and wait staff alike, but it is what it is, and charging consumers more for something that is mainstream seems to be an outdated way of doing business in the food industry. And, I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had.
Love to hear your thoughts?
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: