JUNE 2021 | Expert insights for growing your business.

What Consumers want from Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives

Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows new product development (NPD) in plant-based dairy continues to grow. Last year,

  • Plant-based represented more than 50% of NPD in dairy beverages.
  • Non-dairy yogurts contributed about 21% of new launches.
  • Dairy alternative frozen desserts accounted for 14% of sweet treats entering the ice cream aisle.

North America holds a large share of the global plant-based dairy market, yet category shares are developing slower than the innovation rate. This month’s FlavorSum Insights highlights product development opportunities uncovered through analysis and consumer research to help speed your success.

Market Spotlight: Plant-Based Dairy

With global sales of around $15 billion last year, plant-based milk represent approximately 2% of total milk sales. But forecasted growth of dairy milk alternatives is 3x the anticipated gains in traditional dairy milk. Estimates of the plant-based milk market size vary across sources, but most agree that growth potential is high, ranging from 10-14% CAGR through 2024.

The growth reflects consumers’ inability or unwillingness to drink milk due to personal preferences, dietary restrictions, lactose intolerance, or allergies. In addition, the prevalence of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke encourages consumers to shift to healthier foods globally, and plant-based dairy represents a solution.

Most of the world relies on soy milk in the non-dairy space, reflecting availability and preference in Asian countries.  Almond milk holds 2nd place, with other bases making up the balance of the category.


In the U.S., oat milk edged soy milk out and claimed the #2 spot after almond milk. And in the U.S., plant-based milk represents about 20% of total milk sales, roughly $2.8 billion of a 10 billion market, indicating a wider acceptance than seen globally.

Canadian interest in oat milk is also growing significantly, but the segment share trails soy and coconut milk. In Canada, sales growth in milk alternatives reached about $340 million last year to represent 14% of a $2.4 billion category.  The increase is in response to a growing distaste for the hormone, lactose, and saturated fat contents of conventional dairy, in addition to mounting environmental concerns.


Category in Focus: Characteristics Driving Decisions About Plant-Based Dairy

In last month’s FlavorSum Insights, we examined consumer survey results that uncovered the demographics and socioeconomics of North American consumers who are interested in plant-based dairy products.  We learned that the audience is younger, well-educated, and family-focused, with their interest in plant-based dairy representing a conscious choice more often than a dietary requirement.

The research also helped us understand the product characteristics people consider when choosing dairy alternatives. Several themes emerged from the list of attributes in the study, including:

  • Brand Trust
  • Flavor Expectations
  • Sensory Experience
  • Health Perceptions
  • Dietary Considerations

Of these broader themes, brand trust, flavor, and sensory experiences rose to the top, along with a few characteristics associated with healthiness, such as natural ingredients or functional benefits.  Dietary considerations fell lower on the list of attributes influencing the purchase decision. But for about one-half of the consumer base, having an organic, vegan, lactose-free, or keto-friendly option is compelling. These niche needs represent an opportunity for producers to gain incremental volume through line extensions or build a brand with a unique value proposition.


Importance of Plant-Based Dairy Characteristics:  % Agreeing Very or Somewhat Important

Did You Miss Our Webinar?

Watch Sprout Success in Plant-Based Dairy – On-Demand!

Explore more about the plant-based dairy market as we take a deep dive into consumer insights uncovered with analysis and through our proprietary research.


Download our e-book for Additional Guidance about Plant-Based Frozen Desserts!


Serving up Success: Fun and Great Food at FlavorSum

FlavorSum kicked off the summer with some barbeque and outdoor games for staff on June 2nd and June 11th. The Kalamazoo and Mississauga facilities enjoyed catching up with team members over a delicious spread of food along with a little friendly competition in outdoor games like cornhole. Just one of the many ways FlavorSum celebrates success in the workforce after a busy month in May.

FlavorSum has another reason to celebrate as our team continues to grow. We’re giving a warm welcome to:

  • Juan S — Customer Care
  • Sandeep K – R&D
  • Jon C – R&D
  • Hardik B – QC
  • Holly G – Regulatory
  • Luis C  — Packaging  
  • Jeryn J  – Packaging
  • Noah M – Packaging/Production

Know of anyone interested in joining our team? Find out more about our current employment opportunities by visiting our careers page. Our Kalamazoo location will also be hosting a career fair on Wednesday, June 30th from 2-4 PM. If you’re local please come visit us!

Our competitive and celebratory spirit extends to our customers. Advocating solutions has always been an essential ingredient in the FlavorSum philosophy.  Whether you are a major food manufacturer, an expanding franchise, or a food service provider, our team is ready to assist. For your next innovative flavor solution, contact a member of our team today!

In the July issue of FlavorSum Insights:

Unfolding the Details about Vanilla Extracts and Flavors for Food & Beverage
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