Dairy Free Beverages Expand the Milk Aisle

February 18, 2015

CHICAGO—When it comes to milk, it’s no longer just about whole, two percent, skim, and flavored anymore. Consumers now have a variety of nut, grain, and seed milks that are all nondairy to choose from. In the February issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), IFT member David Despain writes about the increasing number of dairy-free options on the market in response to consumers’ growing interest in plant-based milk products.

Many grocery stores, retail outlets, and restaurants now offer nondairy options to milk such as soy, rice, almond, coconut and quinoa milks. Preliminary wholesale dollar sales projections for the nondairy milk category topped out at $1.2 billion in 2014 according to research from Beverage Marketing Corp. That’s nearly 30 percent growth since 2010.

Nondairy milk sales are driven mainly by health trends such as an increase in cultural diversity, the obesity epidemic, and a leaning toward use of more allergen-free and non-soy options for plant-based protein. Nutrient-content claims such as “good source of protein” or “excellent source of fiber;” comparative claims such as 50 percent more calcium than milk; and health claims such as “heart healthy” also make these beverages very appealing.

Consumers are also using dairy alternatives for cereal, baking, smoothies, coffee, etc.  Although regular, plain cow’s milk will probably not become obsolete, it’s starting to look a little crowded out next to the growing number of plant-based varieties that each boasts its own set of features reaching far beyond the universal “lactose-free” and “dairy-free.”

Read the full article in Food Technology here

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