How the dairy industry can respond to the rise of dairy-free

With dairy alternatives on the rise, the dairy sector needs to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products

With consumers increasingly going dairy-free, dairy alternatives are on a rise. In the past decade, global retail sales for these alternatives have soared at eight percent annually. With retail sales valued at US$15.6bn, dairy-free ‘milk’ represented 12% of the total fluid milk and alternative sales globally in 2017, according to Euromonitor.

Although dairy products offer nutrition and flavour, the consumers’ changing perception around health and lifestyle choices have drawn them more towards dairy-free products.

Thanks for biotechnology, brewing milk proteins through biofermentation is now possible, and according to RaboResearch’s latest global dairy report ‘Dare Not to Dairy – What the Rise of Diary-Free Means for Dairy and How the Industry Can Respond’, now is the time for the dairy industry to reflect on this success and to consider applying those lessons to dairy.

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 "Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5% for years to come, with demand for non-fluid categories offsetting weak fluid milk sales," Tom Bailey, RaboResearch senior analyst – dairy says.

"While it’s not essential to diversify into dairy alternatives, it would be wise for the dairy industry to at least learn one thing from the success of dairy alternatives, which may be putting the consumer first and trading in the old grass-to-glass model for glass-to-grass."

Results from the last five years show that dairy players who have invested in milk alternatives, such as planting almond trees, have benefited more, as the investments in alternatives have yielded more returns compared to standalone dairy.

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