MAY 2021 | Expert insights for growing your business.

Creating Sweet Dairy-Alternatives with Plant Bases: What You Need to Know

Plant-based alternatives to traditional dairy emerged in the 13th century, with historical cookbooks showing the use of soy, coconut, and almond ‘milk’ across India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now, base diversity has expanded to include other plants like oats, cashews, and pea protein. And plant-based milks are a multi-billion-dollar category with a CAGR of 10-14% expected to deliver more than $23 billion globally by 2025.

The FlavorSum team recently conducted a North American market analysis and proprietary consumer research to understand interest, expectations, and opportunities in plant-based dairy alternatives. In this month’s FlavorSum Insights, we focus on ice cream and frozen desserts. Read on to learn more!

Market Spotlight: Plant-Based Frozen Desserts in North America

Industry research shows North America holds a 38.4% share of the $2 billion global plant-based ice cream and frozen dessert market. Forecasts expect the $768 million category to outpace traditional milk-based alternatives with a robust CAGR of 24%. Although the segment is rapidly expanding, plant-based options generate less than 10% of the roughly $10 billion frozen dessert market.


Manufacturers’ recognition of the category’s consumer appeal drives new product development, which surged 27% pre-pandemic. Although 2020 NPD activity slowed, North American product launch data from Mintel GNPD (see chart) shows ice creams and frozen desserts feature various bases. Blends combining ingredients like almond milk, coconut oil, and pea protein dominated the 2020 landscape. The trend toward blended bases reflects producers’ efforts to deliver the taste and mouthfeel consumers expect from ice cream and frozen desserts.  

Oat-based frozen dessert launches picked up in 2020, aligning with the rapid growth in oat milk sales in North America. The familiar taste, nutrition profile, and sustainability associated with oat milk contribute to positive consumer perceptions and manufacturer interest.


Category in Focus: Who’s Interested in Plant-Based Frozen Desserts?

Survey results show more U.S. consumers have shopped for plant-based ice creams or frozen desserts than Canadians, who have less experience with the category.  Interest in plant-based frozen desserts is higher among younger consumers:


On average, buyers of plant-based ice creams and frozen desserts are 39 years old, consistent with the population in North America. Slightly more men buy the category than expected, and significantly more are employed college grads who are married with children.

Top reasons for purchase center around perceived health benefits and sustainability of plant-based products: 

  • 73% of buyers agree that plant-based dairy products are healthier than traditional dairy
  • 54% rate plant-based products better for the environment

Webinar: Sprout Success in Plant-Based Dairy: Insights from FlavorSum

June 16, 2-3 pm est

Please plan to attend our webinar, where we’ll dig deeper into the consumer insights uncovered through our survey. We’ll also discuss ways to address formulation challenges when developing plant-based dairy alternatives.

Register today!

Flavors that Consumers Pair with Plant-Bases

When we asked consumers to link flavor families with plant bases, they offered the following ideas. Examples of specific flavors in each family are shown below the charts.

Almond Milk:

Soy Milk:

Coconut Milk:

Oat Milk:


Berry – strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry

Fruit – pear, peach, apple, cherry

Citrus – lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit

Melon – watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe

Simple Sweet – chocolate, vanilla, honey

Tropical – pineapple, mango, banana

Fun Flavors – cotton candy, tutti fruitti

Indulgent – cheesecake, cookie, fudge, caramel, gingerbread, coffee

Spice – mint, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom

“Formula for Success” Video Series Shines Spotlight on Employees

In April, FlavorSum premiered the “Formula for Success” video series featuring Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dave Franz. Dave describes how FlavorSum is a trailblazer that helps small, medium, and emerging food and beverage manufacturers speed time-to-market for product launches. In future episodes, you’ll meet team members Rebecca, Michael, and Peter and discover how they bring value to our customers and partners.


Marketing Specialist Jeremy Hernandez-Hermann helped develop the project with the creative team, Chris and Collin Shamus of Shamus Design. The videos bring a personal approach to the industry by introducing the people behind the solutions created during the flavor development process. FlavorSum recognizes that technical expertise and insights originate with real people, and we celebrate their successes within their fields.  

The series highlights how employees strive for excellence in their roles and make decisions informed by integrity and accountability. FlavorSum is more than the company name; it’s a mindset that team members have when developing their formula for success.

We’re Hiring!

When National Flavors, Bonnie & Don Flavours, and GSB Flavor Creators unified as FlavorSum, we quickly gained momentum. Now, we’re adding to our team to keep pace with our customers’ needs.


Being part of the team at FlavorSum means:

  • Challenging the status quo — through innovative development and production of exceptional flavors and use of technologies that improve speed-to-market — for small and emerging food and beverage manufacturers. 
  • Sharing a passion for flavor – either new tastes or fresh takes on traditional ideas — with a team of enthusiastic people focused on providing solutions to our customers and delivering remarkable results. 
  • Bringing individual talent – from R&D to production experts to leaders in sales and customer service – to cross-functional crews who strive for excellence and focus on doing what’s right every day.

To find out more about our current opportunities, check out our careers page.

In the June issue of FlavorSum Insights:

What Consumers want from Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives
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