- One-third of consumers said they have not found a plant-based dairy product they like, according to a survey from ingredients provider Ofi.
- Plant-based dairy options remain popular, with 64% of those surveyed purchasing at least one each week, and nearly two-thirds buying them along with regular dairy. Health and nutrition were listed as the most important factors when deciding to buy them.
- While milk alternatives such as almond and oat have seen a large influx of popularity during the past decade, barriers remain for some consumers, including taste, mouthfeel and affordability.
The survey from Ofi, the producer of the ingredients such as coffee, edible nuts and dairy, asked more than 1,500 respondents about their adoption of plant-based dairy. Interest is rising, as 63% said they expect to purchase more products during the next two years.
The survey results indicate there are key areas plant-based dairy producers should concentrate on when conceiving new products, particularly flavors and health benefits, said Sonali Dalvi, Ofi’s vice president of innovation.
“This is a call to action to the food and beverage industry. You need a fresh, creative approach to flavor creation, color, and texture development to make products that captivate consumers,” Dalvi said in a statement.
While 82% of those surveyed said they use animal-free products at least once a month, 7% said they went back to dairy after they did not enjoy their first plant-based alternative.
Given consumers’ prioritization of nutritious and functional aspects when choosing a dairy alternative, Dalvi said there is potential for formulations made from ingredients such as cocoa, nuts and spices that feature clean-label attributes.
Affordability and accessibility also provide a barrier to entry for some consumers, the survey indicated, as 57% of those who eschew plant-based dairy said the prices are a significant factor.
As Gen Z moves away from dairy milk, the leading plant-based dairy alternatives continue to grow their sales. Large CPG companies like Nestlé, Chobani and Danone have leaned into the dairy alternative category with new products in recent years. Oat milk, one of the leading product categories, is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 15.4% through 2028, according to Grand View Research.
The increase in consumer adoption of plant-based milks has resulted in more recognition for the category from federal regulators. In February, the FDA said plant-based milk products can can be labeled as “milk,” while recommending that they add nutritional disclosures to their packaging to help consumers discern it from dairy milk.