You may find nondairy milks in the cooler of the supermarket, but this is one hot category. Sales of plant-based nondairy milks have more than doubled since 2010, says a new report.
U.S. sales are expected to hit $16.3 billion in 2018, up from $7.4 billion in 2010, according to part one of a report released by FoodIngredientsFirst, citing mergers like Danone’s 2016 acquisition of U.S.-based WhiteWave, producer of several brands of nondairy milks.
“A year after the announcement that Danone was to buy WhiteWave Foods in a US$10bn-plus deal, the implications are still unfolding,” reads the report. “A new company DanoneWave was created in April 2017 to merge the two businesses in the US and drive forward growth in its dairy and plant-based operations. The merged operation has North American sales of over US $6bn and is in the top 15 US food and beverage companies, leading in refrigerated dairy (excluding cheese).”
But DanoneWave is not the only plant-based milk brand out there. And scores of other producers of nondairy milks of all kind -- soy, almond, pea, quinoa, hemp, and coconut -- are all seeing notable growth.
“The term ‘plant-based foods’ has made the extraordinary leap from yesterday’s hippie buzzword to today’s mainstream mantra,” the report notes. “With a growing number of people showing interest in a plant-powered lifestyle that packs in more whole-plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, this catchphrase has become the latest label claim to win over more than just the health and wellness crowd.”
And while sales on nondairy and plant-based milks are on the upswing, the conventional dairy industry isn’t experiencing the same boost in sales. In fact, for dairy producers, it’s quite the opposite, with milk sales at a thirty-year low. It’s so much of a concern for the dairy industry that legislation like the DAIRY PRIDE Act aim to prevent nondairy producers from using terms like milk, cream, yogurt, or cheese on plant-based alternatives.
According to Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, the market for nondairy products “is not just in vegans,” she says. “ It’s in people looking at meatless meals or dairy-free meals. When we asked about the number of consumers who say they eat a meatless meal once a week or more, number one among the 19 countries we surveyed was Germany, with 70 percent of people, 53 percent of people in the UK and 38 percent of Americans. That’s 200 million people who are interested in eating meatless meals. So maybe they’re going to drink dairy milk three days a week and not four days a week. That’s the opportunity. So I don’t know if I would focus on the vegan opportunity as much as I’d focus on that bigger group of people. Vegan can turn people off sometimes. There is a market for it, but I think there’s a much bigger market to focus on plants.”
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