07/18/2014 01:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who Cares About the Price of Almond Milk?

Shutterstock / silver-john

As someone that works within the retail food sector, I am truly quite puzzled by the recent "news" pieces getting circulated regarding the price of almond milk. If you haven't heard, the gist is that some people seem to be outraged that almond milk is cheaper to make yourself, because almond milk is basically a small amount of almonds blended with filtered water.

What I find astounding, is that people 1) didn't already know this and 2) are shocked that it's cheaper to make food at home. I don't quite understand why almond milk is being targeted. Any food bought from the store is going to be cheaper to make at home.

An article on Mother Jones, claiming almond milk is a scam, points out that according to their calculations, there are about .39 cents of almonds in a $3.99 container of almond milk. Who cares? Almonds are just one ingredient and there are a lot of other costs that need to be considered before a product gets to a shelf.

Food manufacturers have packaging, labor, production, shipping, graphic design, marketing, etc. costs in addition to the cost of a single ingredient. The actual cost of producing the $3.99 container of almond milk is probably a lot higher than .39 cents.

After production, brokers typically sell the product to distributors, who in turn sell it to the retail outlet where the end consumers make their purchase. A markup and margin gets taken each step of the way. In other words, it's pretty elementary thinking to assume that since the almonds cost .39 per container that the company is profiting to the tune of $3.60 per unit.

This is why I am puzzled and confused about how this piece even began circulating. Does the author not realize that all food in a grocery store is marked up to make a profit? Do they not understand there are more costs to bringing a product to market beyond the cost of a single ingredient? Is anyone shocked that it's ultimately cheaper to make everything at home?

It really almost makes you wonder if this could be some sort of clever PR campaign by the dairy industry. Certainly, I'm not making any accusations, but it does all seem very curious indeed. Perhaps the idea that it's more cost-effective to cook at home is a revolutionary idea for some people.

Either way, almond milk isn't a scam and almond milk manufacturers aren't doing anything that any other retail food product isn't. There's no secret scandal and no one is getting ripped off. You can go ahead and drink your almond milk without feeling as though you're contributing to some sort of giant conspiracy.