April 25, 2023
One-third of consumers say they have not found a plant-based dairy product that they want to drink, according to a survey by Singapore-based ingredients provider Ofi.
Indeed, Food Dive reports, while milk alternatives, such as almond and oat, have become popular over the past decade; barriers remain for some consumers, including taste, mouthfeel, and affordability.
Still, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they purchased at least one plant-based dairy product each week—and the same numbers reported buying milk alternatives along with regular dairy. Health and nutrition were listed as the most important factors when deciding to buy them.
Conversely, while 82% of those surveyed said they use animal-free products at least once a month, 7% said they went back to dairy after they did not enjoy their first plant-based alternative.
The survey from Ofi—the producer of the ingredients such as coffee, edible nuts and dairy—asked more than 1,500 adults about their adoption of plant-based dairy. Interest is rising, as 63% said they expect to purchase more products during the next two years.
The survey results indicate there are key areas plant-based dairy producers should concentrate on when conceiving new products, particularly flavors and health benefits, said Sonali Dalvi, Ofi’s vice president of Innovation.
“This is a call to action to the food and beverage industry. You need a fresh, creative approach to flavor creation, color, and texture development to make products that captivate consumers,” Dalvi said in a statement.
Given consumers’ prioritization of nutritious and functional aspects when choosing a dairy alternative, Dalvi said there is potential for formulations made from ingredients such as cocoa, nuts, and spices that feature clean-label attributes.
Affordability and accessibility also provide a barrier to entry for some consumers, the survey indicated, as 57% of those who eschew plant-based dairy said the prices are a significant factor.
As Gen Z moves away from dairy milk, the leading plant-based dairy alternatives continue to grow their sales. Large consumer packaged goods companies like Nestlé, Chobani, and Danone have leaned into the dairy alternative category with new products in recent years.
Oat milk, one of the leading product categories, is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 15.4% through 2028, according to Grand View Research.
The increase in consumer adoption of plant-based milks has resulted in more recognition for the category from federal regulators. In February, the FDA said plant-based milk products can can be labeled as “milk,” while recommending that producers add nutritional disclosures to their packaging to help consumers discern it from dairy milk.
Research contact: @FoodDive