A new report from Innova on the global dairy alternatives market highlighted the complexities of the consumer picture, however, with no single factor driving the rise in purchase rates. Lactose avoidance is still a more important issue than veganism, although the vegan juggernaut is certainly not slowing down and will inevitably play a growing role in future demand. But it is the flexitarian movement—led by western markets—that appears to be having the most impact on current growth; in nine countries surveyed, an average of 32% of consumers said they bought dairy alternatives simply “because they’re healthier,” and 27% “because they bring variety to my diet,” helping to incorporate more plant ingredients.
Purchasing of dairy alternatives is still most frequent in Asia and Latin America, which are home to the greatest incidence of lactose intolerance, but these markets remain dominated by milk alternatives, with diversification and segmentation of the category focused on more developed regions. There is an above-average focus on dairy-free yogurts in Europe, for example, while ice cream represented almost a third of all dairy alternative launches in North America in 2018.
“There is real variety in the products emerging in the European and North American markets,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights. “And within the past year or two, we have even seen mainstream brands joining the fray, something that many consumers will see as an endorsement of their own emerging interest.”