Putting growth in dairy alternatives into perspective

Published 5 May 17

Innovation has been important to the dairy category in recent years and there has been a wealth of new product development. There has also been continued growth in the number of products that market themselves as alternatives to dairy, as well as in the volume that is sold. Is this rapid growth likely to continue and what impact could it have on the global dairy market?

Consumers have seen a wealth of new product development over the past few years, particularly in the area of alternative dairy products. These include soya, coconut and almond-based products.

Over the past five years alternatives to dairy (including soya) have seen 59% growth in volume sold in Great Britain, according to Kantar Worldpanel data. Mintel report 18% of adults purchased dairy substitute products in the six month period to September 2016, this is higher than both lactose-free dairy products (15%) and dairy-free products (eg dairy-free biscuits, 14%) in the same period.

Reasons for reducing consumption

According to Mintel, half of Brits avoid or have a household member who avoids one or more type of food and one in five of these say the reason is due to an intolerance or allergy. One reason given for avoiding dairy is because of a perceived dietary requirement such as an allergy or intolerance, but it is important to remember that this is not the only reason. The decision can also be a lifestyle choice which may be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as media coverage of celebrity exclusion diets, or choosing to follow a vegan diet.

New product development in the dairy industry

Part of the reason behind dairy alternatives achieving rapid growth is effective marketing and extensive new product development. Despite the high level of growth, it is important to acknowledge that its contribution to the total GB dairy market remains small at just 3.7% of the total milk category by volume and 7.4% by spend for the 52 w/e 29 Jan 17 (Kantar Worldpanel).