Oatly, Alpro (Danone), DUG (Veg of Lund), Planti, Oddlygood, and Sproud, under the umbrella of Plant-based Sweden (Växtbaserat Sverige), have sent a letter to the Swedish government urging it to advocate for the inclusion of plant-based milk in the upcoming review of the EU School Scheme.
Currently, the EU School Scheme aids over 20 million European children by providing them with milk, fruit, and vegetables. However, it does not encompass milk alternatives, even though numerous children are unable or unwilling to consume dairy due to medical, ethical, taste, or environmental concerns.
Last year, ProVeg and The Vegan Society collected tens of thousands of signatures calling for the EU to add plant-based milk to the scheme. The Green REV Institute also issued an open letter calling for plant milk in schools, arguing that the system provides €100 million for animal milk, contradicting the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.
However, sadly but maybe unsurprisingly, Members of the European Parliament failed to support a shift in school meal funding and voted against the inclusion of plant-based drinks in schools last May.
A completely different demand
The letter sent to the Swedish government argues that Sweden and many countries already include plant-based milk in their dietary recommendations. Including plant-based milk supports freedom of choice while providing options for children who cannot or do not want to consume milk, says the letter.
“Drinks made from oats and soy are environmentally smart. Choose those that are enriched with vitamins and minerals,” states The Swedish National Food Agency.
Sweden already has a thriving plant-based industry, so extending the subsidy to include these alternatives would support Swedish agriculture, innovations, companies, and export opportunities, says the alliance.
According to the Good Food Institute, Sweden has a high average per capita consumption of milk alternatives. At the same time, the Plant-based Sweden Industry Report 2023 shows that Sweden has the third highest consumption of plant-based food in Europe.
Lastly, the letter emphasizes that the government should actively work to ensure that the EU school milk subsidy includes plant-based alternatives to create healthy competitive conditions between animal and plant-based industries.
“When the EU school milk program was decided in 1968, the demand was completely different and there were virtually no plant-based alternatives to milk,” states the letter.
Plant-based Sweden (Växtbaserat Sverige) is a trade organization for companies in the food chain that want to promote the transition to plant-based foods. Its members include Alpro, Findus, Planti (Kavli), Livekindly, Hälsans kök (Nestlé), Oatly, Orkla Foods Sverige, and Stockeld Dreamery.