More and more consumers are taking an interest in the plant-based category. In fact, a recent study from HealthFocus International found 52% of U.S. consumers are eating more plant-based foods and they believe it makes them feel healthier.
With this growing interest, much attention has been paid to meat alternatives, but what about dairy alternatives? Let’s take a moment and look at the plant-based milk alternative category.
The Good Food Institute published a study that found the plant-based milk alternatives category is worth around US$1.86 billion. Plant-based milk alternatives are shown to account for almost half the total plant-based food market and is the most developed of all plant-based categories, followed by “other plant-based dairy” and plant-based meat, respectively.
Digestive health remains one of the biggest trends in health and nutrition today and is likely to be a more important motivation to buy than the halo of plants. Consumers’ desire to avoid the digestive discomfort they associate with cows’ milk has been long been a barrier for the dairy industry. That desire has been met by a growing number of plant-based milk alternatives that have come a long way in delivering on taste—but still fall short in other areas like nutritional equivalency and versatility. Plant-based milk alternatives also have the disadvantage of containing many ingredients and fall short of some consumers’ desire for “least processed” that is not an issue for lactose-free milk with its natural nutrition message.
Now dairy is taking an even bolder approach, launching some interesting products that are showing up in different markets and could continue to pose a threat to plant-based milk alternatives.
Looking through the lens of digestive health as a key consumer motivation, the plant-based milk alternative sector is still positioned for growth, but needs to continue to innovate, particularly in the areas of improved taste and nutrition and versatility to recapture its momentum.
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Formulating for success in the dairy alternative aisle – digital magazine.