The global market for plant-based dairy alternative drinks is forecast top top a massive $16.3 billion dollars next year - up dramatically from $7.4 billion in 2010 - according to new data from Innova Market Insights.
Dairy-alternative drinks accounted for seven per cent of global dairy launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2016, up from six per cent in 2015.
Actual global launch numbers more than doubled over a five-year period. Just over half of these were positioned as lactose-free, nearly 40 per cent as vegan and just under a quarter as GMO-free.
A changing market
Much of this growth can be put down to almond milk, which first became popular in the United States, with a huge rise from 'virtually zero' in the mid-2000s to more than $1 billion in 2016. It has overtaken soy milk as the leading plant-based alternative to dairy, and continues to grow in popularity.
Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, said: "The dairy alternatives market has seen rising levels of interest in recent years, spurred mainly by consumers increasingly looking for lactose-free, dairy-free and plant-based/vegan options as healthy lifestyle choices, rather than regarding them as simply for those with allergies or intolerances.
“The category has been further boosted by the growing availability and promotion of plant-based options to traditional dairy lines, particularly beverages, but also cultured products such as yogurt, frozen desserts and ice-cream, creamers and cheese.”
Williams says that 'traditional' plant-based alternatives are becoming more indulgent, and consumers are increasingly choosing these dairy-free options - which are usually also vegan - for a number of reasons.
She said: "The overall effect has been a rise in the number of products and brands on the market and the variety of ingredients used to make them.
"It is apparent that the overall dairy alternatives market is continuing to develop and is not only featuring a greater variety of base ingredients, but also seeing blended products containing more than one type of milk, such as almond and coconut.
“40 percent of US consumers say that flavor is the most important factor when purchasing dairy alternative drinks and yogurt.”
More still to come
According to the research company, an increasing number of alternative nut ingredients are also starting to appear - with cashew and macadamia rapidly moving toward the mainstream and newer options such as flaxseed, hemp and even lupin seed coming to market.
Williams said: "In the move to offer something new, we are starting to see an increasing variety of non-soy plant-based alternatives, including cereals such as rice, oats and barley, and nuts – such as almonds, hazelnuts and macadamias – as well as more unusual options such as hemp and flaxseed.
“There has been ongoing launch activity for a range of increasingly sophisticated flavors and blends of non-dairy milks from different sources. In line with the milks market as a whole, there has been a strong move into fashionable milk-based coffee drinks."