Trading Standards urged to drop plans banning vegan brands from using dairy names for their products

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  14th July 2023

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Trading Standards is being petitioned by Palm PR, with support from The Vegan Society and vegan charity Viva! among others


A new campaign is calling on Trading Standards to drop its plans to issue guidelines banning plant-based brands from using dairy-related names for their products, like ‘mylk’, ‘sheese’ and ‘b+tter’.

Palm PR, a food and drink pr agency has launched the campaign, kickstarting a petition to ‘stop Trading Standards upending the way vegan brands have marketed themselves for years’.

The Vegan Society and vegan charity Viva!, along with multiple businesses and key opinion leaders in the category, have already supported the petition, including One Planet Pizza and Moving Mountains.

According to Palm PR, with its campaign, it is ‘arguing for equality for the UK’s plant-based economy’.

One Planet Pizza is amongst the brands supporting the petition. Image courtesy of @oneplanetpizza via Instagram

One Planet Pizza is amongst the brands supporting the petition. Image courtesy of @oneplanetpizza via Instagram


Trading Standards

According to investigative reporting from the Times, Trading Standards is soon to issue guidelines that would prevent brands from using ‘misspelling[s], homophonic words or non-alphabet symbols’ to refer to dairy terms.

These changes would ‘prevent there being a level playing field between categories’ according to the campaign, which says the changes would instead ‘ dampen innovation and add costs to businesses already battling rising prices’.

Consumers are not confused by the use of terms like ‘soya milk‘, says Palm PR, which notes that the product has been mentioned in written text dating back to 1365, with almond milk mentioned in a 13th-century cookbook.

The immediate aim of the petition is to stop Trading Standards from issuing the guidelines, while long term, it is hoped the organisation will ‘evolve its overall guidelines to better fit a modern and dynamic food and drink industry’.

The ban would prevent brands from using misspellings of dairy-related terms. Image courtesy of @sheeseuk via Instagram

The ban would prevent brands from using misspellings of dairy-related terms. Image courtesy of @sheeseuk via Instagram


‘Passionate about promoting choice’

In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, Palm Founders Emily and Liam Keogh said: “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 success of 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.

“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.”


Meanwhile, the Vegan Society’s CEO Steve Hamon added that there is no evidence that consumers are confused when buying plant-based dairy alternatives.

He said: “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.”

And vegan charity Viva!’s Founder and Director, Juliet Gellatley said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

Why not try making your own plant-based products? Here’s how to make your own pistachio milk, hemp milk and quinoa milk

Featured photo © Tada Images via Adobe Stock

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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