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Costa and Starbucks among coffee chains urged to drop plant milk surcharge

Coffee chains have been urged to stop “taxing climate-conscious consumers” by dropping surcharges on plant-based milks.

The group behind Veganuary, which encourages people to go vegan during the first month of the year, has made the plea to high street cafes like Costa and Starbucks to mark World Plant Milk Day.

It says most shops charge between 20p and 50p extra for various plant milks, including soya, oat, almond and coconut, despite a recent study finding that a quarter of Britons were now drinking such dairy alternatives.

Image: One in four Britons now drink plant-based milk, according to a new study

While soya milk is free at Costa, Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Pret, each charges for other options.

Coconut and almond milks are an extra 45p at Costa and 40p at Nero and Starbucks, with the latter also offering oat milk and charging 40p for the privilege.


Pret also charges 40p for coconut milk, while all plant milks are 50p extra at Pumpkin – the cafe chain that is mainly found on train platforms up and down the country.

AMT Coffee, which is also found at railway stations as well as airports and hospitals, is considered a rare exception as it does not charge extra for any plant milks.

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Toni Vernelli, head of communications at Veganuary, told Sky News: “Charging extra for plant milk is effectively a tax on climate-conscious customers.

“Animal farming is responsible for more than half of all food-related greenhouses gases and cows are the prime cause, with each one burping out 600 litres of methane a day. The true cost of cow’s milk is climate catastrophe.”

She added: “This World Plant Milk Day we’re calling on all coffee chains to follow AMT’s lead and help halt the devastating impact animal farming has on our planet by providing free planet-friendly plant milk for all customers – before we all pay the price.

“Although many are now providing soya for free, not everyone can have soya or likes it. Just as they provide a range of dairy milks for free to suit all tastes (whole, semi and skimmed), so they should with plant milks.”

Sky News has contacted Costa, Pret and Starbucks for comment.


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