Why Is There A Shortage Of Almond Milk? A Full Guide

Are you a fan of almond milk? If so, you may have noticed that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find in stores.

The popularity of this dairy alternative has skyrocketed in recent years, but unfortunately, there are several environmental factors at play that are causing a shortage of almond milk.

From droughts in California to declining bee populations, the supply of almonds is decreasing, making it harder for farmers to meet the demand.

But is this shortage affecting all stores and brands equally? And what about other non-dairy milk options?

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind the almond milk shortage and what it means for consumers.

Why Is There A Shortage Of Almond Milk?

The shortage of almond milk can be attributed to several environmental factors, with the most significant being the California drought. This has caused water prices to increase, making it difficult for farmers to sustain their almond orchards. As a result, there is a decrease in the supply of almonds, which is affecting the production of almond milk.

Another factor contributing to the shortage is the decline in bee populations. Bees are necessary for pollination, and without them, there are fewer almonds being produced. This has further reduced the supply of almonds and, in turn, almond milk.

While there may be a shortage of almond milk in some grocery stores, it’s important to note that it’s not a nationwide issue. Big retail chains like Walmart still have almond milk available, and online platforms like Amazon have plenty of options as well.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are other non-dairy milk options available, such as soy, oat, cashew, coconut, rice, and pea milks. These alternatives are becoming increasingly popular due to their health and environmental benefits.

The Rise Of Almond Milk: A Brief History

Almond milk has been around for centuries, with its origins traced back to the Middle Ages. It was a popular alternative to cow’s milk, particularly among those who were lactose intolerant or had allergies. In the United States, almond milk gained popularity in the 1990s as a healthy and nutritious alternative to dairy milk.

The rise of almond milk can be attributed to several factors, including the growing trend of veganism and clean eating. Many people are choosing to adopt plant-based diets for health and environmental reasons, and almond milk is seen as a healthier and more sustainable option than dairy milk.

The popularity of almond milk has also been fueled by its taste and versatility. It has a creamy texture and nutty flavor that makes it a great addition to coffee, smoothies, and cereal. It’s also lower in calories and fat than dairy milk, making it a popular choice among those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet.

Today, the United States is the largest producer and exporter of almonds, with India and China being major markets for U.S. almonds. Despite the global supply chain issues affecting other crops, the domestic U.S. almond market remains strong, with demand for almond milk continuing to grow.

However, the rise of almond milk has not been without controversy. There are concerns about the environmental impact of almond farming, particularly in California where over 80% of the world’s almonds are grown. The drought in California has caused water prices to increase, making it difficult for farmers to sustain their almond orchards. Additionally, there are concerns about the decline in bee populations, which are necessary for pollination and therefore affect almond production.

Despite these concerns, almond milk remains a popular and widely available non-dairy milk alternative. Its rise in popularity is likely to continue as more people seek out plant-based options for health and environmental reasons.

The Environmental Impact Of Almond Farming

Almond milk has been marketed as a more sustainable and healthier alternative to cow’s milk. However, the environmental impact of almond farming tells a different story. Almond production requires a significant amount of water, and a single almond can take up to 1.1 gallons of water to grow. It takes around two pounds of almonds to make one gallon of milk, which means that producing a single liter of almond milk requires a whopping 371 liters of water.

The high water consumption associated with almond farming has led to concerns about the environmental impact of almond milk. This is particularly true in California, where almonds are grown extensively. The state has been experiencing a severe drought, which has caused the price of water to increase and made it difficult for farmers to sustain their almond orchards. The almond industry has also experienced a decline in bee populations, which are necessary for pollination. This has further reduced the amount of almonds being produced.

Moreover, producing almonds away from their main producing countries increases their impact due to emissions associated with transportation. Almond milk’s impact on the environment can be compared to dairy milk from the perspective of choosing between advocating for climate change or water scarcity.

While almond milk has a smaller carbon footprint than cow’s milk, its high water consumption means that it is not as sustainable as it is marketed to be. It is essential to note that all types of agriculture require water, but choosing brands adopting sustainable methods of raising cattle or using agroecological methods of irrigating water into California’s almond crops can help reduce the impacts of both types of milk.

Drought In California: A Major Contributor To The Shortage

The California drought has greatly impacted the production of almonds, which is a major contributor to the shortage of almond milk. Almond trees require a significant amount of water to grow, and with the drought causing water prices to increase, it has become difficult for farmers to sustain their orchards. This has led to a decrease in the supply of almonds, making it harder for almond milk producers to meet the demand.

Moreover, the cultivation of almonds is taking a toll on California’s water supply. The production of a single almond requires one to three gallons of water, and the production of one gallon of almond milk requires anywhere from 80 to 100 gallons of water. This puts a strain on California’s already depleted groundwater tables and surface water sources.

In response to the water scarcity caused by the drought, farmers have been relying on underground aquifers to irrigate their almond trees. However, this is not a sustainable solution since these aquifers take thousands of years to refill. As a result, farmers are losing a key buffer against both this drought and future droughts.

The almond boom has also led many farmers to switch to higher-value crops like almonds in order to get as much value as possible out of their increasingly scarce water. While better technology and efficient irrigation have allowed them to grow almond trees in drier areas and poorer soil, it still requires a significant amount of water.

The Decline Of Bee Populations And Its Effect On Almond Production

The decline of bee populations has had a significant impact on almond production. Bees are essential for pollinating almond trees, and without them, there is a decrease in the number of almonds being produced. This has contributed to the shortage of almonds and, consequently, almond milk.

One of the primary reasons for the decline in bee populations is exposure to pesticides. The use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides, has been linked to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon where honeybees mysteriously disappear or die outside their hives. While the EPA pulled a dozen neonics from the market following a successful lawsuit brought by beekeepers and environmental groups, there are still many chemicals that are not labeled as bee toxic but can make bees sick and weaken their immune systems.

Another factor contributing to the decline in bee populations is loss of habitat and climate change. Bees require diverse forage to survive, but monoculture farming practices have reduced the availability of food sources for bees. Climate change has also affected bee populations by altering the timing of flowering plants and disrupting the natural cycles of bees.

The decline in bee populations has had a significant financial impact on beekeepers who maintain commercial hives. Beekeepers now rely on renting their hives out to almond farmers to provide half of their revenue. During almond pollination season, more than 70% of all commercial honey bee colonies in the United States are used to pollinate almond orchards, which provides as much revenue for U.S. beekeepers as honey production.

In response to the decline in bee populations, scientists are working on breeding almond varieties that require fewer bees to pollinate. California has also implemented a “Bee Where” program to coordinate hive locations and alert farmers about upcoming pesticide sprays. Action group SumOfUs has launched a “Bee Better” certification that asks farmers to increase biodiversity by planting clover, wildflowers, and mustard in between trees.

How The Almond Milk Shortage Is Affecting Different Brands And Stores

The almond milk shortage is affecting different brands and stores in various ways. Some brands are struggling to keep up with the demand for almond milk, while others have had to discontinue certain products due to the shortage of almonds.

Simply almond milk is one of the brands that has been affected by the shortage. Some stores have reported being out of stock of this particular brand, while others have discontinued it altogether. It’s unclear whether this is due to low sales or difficulty in production, but the company may reintroduce the product in the future.

Other brands, such as Almond Breeze and Silk, have not reported any major issues with their supply chain. However, some stores may be experiencing shortages of these brands due to the overall decrease in almond supply.

It’s important to note that not all stores are affected equally by the shortage. Some smaller grocery stores may have more difficulty sourcing almond milk than larger retail chains like Walmart or Target. Additionally, stores located in areas that are more heavily affected by droughts may experience more significant shortages.

Alternative Non-Dairy Milk Options To Consider

If you’re looking to switch up your non-dairy milk options, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. One rising star in the non-dairy milk world is hemp milk. Made from hemp seeds, it has a mild nutty taste and is creamy in texture. It’s also a great source of protein and healthy fats.

Another option is flax milk, which is made from flaxseeds. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is low in calories and sugar. Flax milk is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.

For those who prefer a sweeter taste, coconut milk is a great choice. It has a rich, creamy flavor and is high in healthy fats. Coconut milk is also versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

If you’re looking for a more traditional non-dairy milk option, soy milk is a classic choice. It’s high in protein and calcium and has a neutral taste that works well in both sweet and savory dishes.

Finally, oat milk has become increasingly popular due to its creamy texture and neutral taste. It’s also high in fiber and low in fat, making it a great option for those watching their calorie intake.