Dairy alternatives are on a rise as consumers are increasingly going dairy-free, particularly when it comes to fluid ‘milk’ used on things like cereal or in coffees. More recently, biotechnology has entered the arena, brewing milk proteins through biofermentation. The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and to consider applying those lessons to dairy, according to the latest RaboResearch dairy report Dare Not to Dairy — What the Rise of Dairy-Free Means for Dairy… and How the Industry Can Respond.
Dairy alternatives have competed in the dairy space for decades, but competition has intensified as dairy alternatives broaden in types, styles, and categories of product. Global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives has soared at a rate of 8 percent annually over the last ten years. With retail sales valued at USD 15.6bn, dairy-free ‘milk’ represented 12 percent of total fluid milk and alternative sales globally in 2017, according to Euromonitor.
Nutrition, price, and flavour tend to favour dairy, but changing consumer perceptions around health, lifestyle choices, curiosity, and perceived sustainability are increasingly drawing more people to select ‘dairy-free’ products.
“Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent for years to come, with demand for non-fluid categories offsetting weak fluid milk sales,” says Tom Bailey, RaboResearch Senior Analyst – Dairy. “While it’s not essential to diversify into dairy alternatives, it would be wise for the dairy industry to at least learn one thing from the success of dairy alternatives, which may be putting the consumer first and trading in the old grass-to-glass model for glass-to-grass.”
The challenge for dairy lies mostly in fluid milk, where retail sales in western Europe (USD 18.6bn) and the US (USD 12.5bn) declined at an annual rate of 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in the five years to 2017, according to Euromonitor.
Valio introduces a new range of plant-based products: the spoonable Valio Oddlygood™ gurts and the Valio Oddlygood™ oat drink – both made from Finnish oats at Valio’s Riihimäki and Turenki plants, in Finland. The new gurts and the oat drink will be available in stores in Finland in February 2018 and in Sweden in spring 2018. Milk will continue to be the focus of Valio’s operations also in the future, and the new product innovations complement our offering.
Valio’s new plant-based products complement Valio’s milk-, fruit- and berry-based product offering. Valio Oddlygood™ gurts are a spoonable, yogurt-style snack made from Finnish oats. The Valio Oddlygood™ oat drink is also made from Finnish oats and can be enjoyed on its own or used in smoothies or for baking or cooking.
Per capita consumption of fluid milk beverages decreased by close to 22% from 2000 to 2016. Through the same period, consumption of non-dairy plant-based milk alternatives has increased by triple digits. The decrease in dairy milk consumption can be interpreted as each consumer going from 10 glasses of milk each week to eight glasses per week, not much on an individual level but enormous when viewed in terms of the whole population on an annual basis. Even so, milk is still being consumed in over 90% of the households in the U.S, a report from Package Facts says.
Package Facts concludes that the reasons behind the decline in dairy milk consumption and the reasons for the rise in plant-based milks, such as health concerns, with a growing number of consumers coming to believe that plant-based foods are healthier than animal-based foods. Further, the report considers the growing consumer base that is motivated by animal welfare concerns, leading them to choose plant-based beverages, as well as other plant-based foods over animal-based products.
Driven by negative health perceptions, reduced retail prices and exports and a growing number of non-dairy alternatives, the US dairy milk market has declined in recent years, as new research from Mintel reveals that sales of dairy milk decreased 7 percent in 2015 ($17.8 billion) and are projected to drop another 11 percent through 2020. Seen as a better-for-you (BFY) alternative to dairy milk, non-dairy milk offerings continue to see strong growth, with gains of 9 percent in 2015 to reach $1.9 billion.
The continued popularity of non-dairy milk is troubling for the dairy milk category with Mintel research revealing that half (49 percent) of Americans consume non-dairy milk.