Demand growing for no-nut milk products, but are they better?

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How alternative milk compares to dairy milk. (KTRK)

The number of milk products a consumer can choose from is growing. But alternatives to dairy go beyond almond, soy and coconut milk.

In fact, non-nut milks are now muscling in on the market. These milks are made from plants like oats, hemp, quinoa and peas.

"The fastest growing section of these alternative milks are kinds of things that really didn't exist 10 years ago," said dairy analyst Matt Gould.

According to Gould, millenials are driving the trend.

Demand for alternative milk products jumped 10 and a half percent in the past five years while regular cow's milk took a one and a half percent dive. Experts say concern about lactose intolerance, hormones, nut allergies and a vegan lifestyle are key reasons why.

But how do these new non-nut, non-dairy milks stack up to cow's milk nutritionally?

While quinoa, hemp and oat milk, on average, have less protein, pea milk has about the same amount of protein.

Gould says there are other differences you can see just by looking at the labels.

"Traditional cow milk has about as clean of a label as you can get. There's milk and usually vitamin D added and that's it," said Gould.

Non-dairy alternatives often have additives like cane sugar, oil, gums, and other ingredients.

In many cases, the non-nut milk products are more expensive than both cow's milk and the nut-based brands. I called around and did some price comparisons.

Whole Foods and Sprouts both carry hemp and oat milk costing close to $4 for a 32-ounce bottle.

Central Market carries all four no-nut milks ranging from $3 to $6. Trader Joe's doesn't carry any of them.
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