Connecticut-based milk processor Marcus Dairy announced this week that it will end its wholesale contracts with 52 dairy farms in New York. Many of these farms will shutter once their contracts expire on June 30. Dairy farmer Alice Diehl spoke with CBS Local in New York about her skepticism surrounding the consumer shift toward plant-based alternatives. “I don’t know how you milk an almond,” Diehl said, “but, whatever.” The average American consumer drinks 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970, and the plant-based milk industry, which is predicted to be worth $35 billion by 2024, continues to boom. New York’s dairy producers are not alone in the downturn, as dairy farms across the country are becoming obsolete. In May, two dairy brands—Arla Foods and Dean Foods, which recently invested in flax-based milk brand Good Karma Foods—ended their contracts with dozens of suppliers in Wisconsin citing increased market volatility and decreased consumer demand for dairy milk. Savvy dairy producers are transitioning their production facilities to focus on plant-based milks, including New York brand Elmhurst, which shuttered its dairy processing plant in 2016 after 80 years and re-opened last year as vegan milk brand Elmhurst Milked.
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