Milk is polarizing: To some, it’s a refreshing beverage that pairs well with cookies. For others, it’s a cursed liquid that causes tummy troubles. Even with the shelves of alt milks crowding grocery store coolers these days, the U.S. milk industry is a $15 billion category with 90% penetration, according to John Talbot, the CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board.
However, the industry is not known for sustainability or breakthrough creations. Milk processing plants focus on one thing — do it well and do it efficiently — but don’t do small runs or get involved in product development or innovation. It’s taken a while for the industry to realize that there’s a need for ingenuity, but it’s now embracing fresh ideas, Talbot said.