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Plant-Based Brands Rally Behind PR Firm’s Campaign for Trading Standards to Permit Dairy-Related Terms

An initiative has been undertaken to counter the Trading Standards’ issuance of guidelines that prohibit plant-based brands from employing dairy-associated…



An initiative has been undertaken to counter the Trading Standards’ issuance of guidelines that prohibit plant-based brands from employing dairy-associated terminology such as “mylk,” “sheese,” and “b+tter”.

Palm PR, a Food & Drink Public Relations agency, has spearheaded this campaign, launching a petition that endeavours to safeguard the marketing practices of vegan brands. The campaign has commenced by means of a petition hosted on and has already garnered support from prominent entities such as The Vegan Society and vegan charity Viva!, along with numerous enterprises and influential figures within the field.

“The dairy industry does not hold a monopoly on the use of words such as “milk” or “butter”

Palm PR’s short-term aim is for the petition to prevent Trading Standards from issuing guidelines preventing plant-based brands from using dairy-related terms. In the long term, the firm hopes that the campaign will encourage an evolution of its overall guidelines to better fit a modern and dynamic food and drink industry. “We ask that the wider industry supports the plant-based sector by signing the petition and by asking Trading Standards to keep the status quo and not undermine an exciting engine of growth, dynamism, and innovation in the food and drink industry,” say the London-based team.

UK brands get on board

Plant-based dairy companies Cocos Organic and Nush Foods have declared their support for the petition, joining forces with other brands within the broader plant-based category. Noteworthy participants include Moving Mountains, a British plant-based meat company, and One Planet Pizza, a purpose-driven plant-based pizza company. By advocating for equality within the United Kingdom’s plant-based economy, the agency strives to foster a level playing field.

As reported by The Times, Trading Standards is on the verge of releasing guidelines that would prohibit the utilization of “misspelled words, homophonic terms, or non-alphabet symbols” to denote dairy-related concepts. The campaign firmly contends that these proposed changes would impede equitable competition across categories, stifling innovation and imposing additional costs on businesses already grappling with escalating prices.

Image: ProVeg Netherlands

The use of plant-based terms has been ingrained in public understanding for centuries, as evidenced by historical records that trace back to 1365 for soy milk and a 13th-century cookbook referencing almond milk, says Palm PR, adding that consumers are very clearly familiar with plant-based dairy terminology and that they are not confused by such labelling. The petition highlights that the guidelines put forth by Trading Standards only serve to impose unnecessary restrictions on the sector.

“An incredible part of the economy”

Palm Founders Emily and Liam Keogh say: “We believe that the vegan sector can live in harmony alongside the rest of the food and drink industry, that it’s possible to support both the plant-based and non-vegan parts of the market, and that the plant-based industry’s success reinforces the world leader all of the UK’s food and drink economy. That’s why we are petitioning Trading Standards to allow plant-based brands to continue to use dairy-related terms.

“We are passionate about promoting as much choice as possible in the food and drink industry and that there should be a level playing field between categories. We also believe that the UK’s vegan food industry is an incredible part of the economy and should be celebrated – it’s a world leader, generates millions of pounds of revenue a year, and promotes more choice for consumers.”

The use of dairy-like terms on plant-based products could be banned
Liam Keogh © Palm PR

The Vegan Society’s  CEO Steve Hamon says: “There is no evidence that consumers are confused when buying plant-based dairy alternatives, and to argue that terms such as “not milk” and “sheese” are confusing and should be banned is ridiculous. This proposed measure is based on outdated regulations and appears to be driven solely by commercial interests rather than consumer interests. Instead, it would actually limit consumer choice and work to suppress innovation in the green plant-based industry, where the UK should be a world leader. Plant-based foods emit half the amount of greenhouse gases as animal-based foods and we urgently need to shift diets to help tackle climate change. Trading Standards should drop this proposal which represents a huge step backwards for the UK.”  


Vegan charity Viva! is also in support of the petition, as Founder and Director, Juliet Gellatly comments: “It is ludicrous that Trading Standards are considering banning brands from using dairy-related terms when describing their products. Plant-based alternatives to dairy have existed for decades, never causing any confusion to consumers. Preventing businesses from using these terms may require an entire rebrand, costing a lot of money at a time when many organisations are facing economic difficulties. In wider, global terms, we need vegan businesses to thrive to help save our planet and protect animals. I urge Trading Standards to rethink this bizarre plan that is clearly biased against vegan businesses.

“The dairy industry does not hold a monopoly on the use of words such as “milk” or “butter”, or any puns related to these terms. Plant-based businesses are fully entitled to use these phrases, and we should be embracing their innovation – not restricting it.”

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