Plant
In the past few years, several nut- and Legume-based milk alternatives have stepped onto the scene beyond the typical soy, rice, coconut and almand varieties.
 

 

Inside the dairy alternative market

Paige Ties, senior technical services manager for Cargill’s Texturizing Solutions business, sees beverages as a significant space for growth in plant-based proteins.

Paige
Paige Ties, senior technical services mangers for Cargill's Texturizing Solutions business

“It’s huge in milks,” she said. “We see a lot of traction in that space.”

The market for dairy and dairy alternative beverages will reach a projected $28 billion by 2021, according to Packaged Facts, the Rockville, Maryland-based market research company. Leading the charge will be plant-based dairy alternatives, which are forecast to represent 40 percent of the combined total of dairy and dairy alternative beverages — up 25 percent in 2016 when dairy alternative beverage alone accounted for $6 billion in retail sales.

This shift away from traditional dairy products stems from growing consumer perception that plant-based foods are healthier than animal-based foods, Packaged Facts said. Additionally, animal welfare concerns have motivated more consumers to opt for plant-based products over animal-based ones.

Hemp
Hemp milk is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based protein and 10 essential amino acids. 
 
“Vegetarians and vegans together account for less than 15 percent of all consumers, and their numbers do not grow very rapidly, but a growing number of consumers identify themselves as ‘flexitarian’ or ‘lessitarian,’ meaning that they’ve cut back on their consumption of animal-based foods and beverages,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “It is this group that is most responsible for the significant and ongoing shift from dairy milk to plant-based milk.”


In the past few years, several nut- and legume-based milk alternatives have stepped onto the scene beyond the typical soy, rice, coconut and almond varieties. These new and novel non-dairy milks are expected to find a wider audience in 2018, Packaged Facts said. Several up and coming sources of plant protein in the dairy alternative market include pea, hemp and even quinoa.

 

Ripple
Ripple's pea milk includes originial, chocolate, unsweetened originial, vanilla and unsweetened vanilla varieties.
 
Pea milk offers several advantages over other dairy alternatives, according to Packaged Facts, which could “make it a hit” with consumers. Pea milk brand Ripple Foods said one serving of its pea milk has 8 grams of protein, the same as cows’ milk, compared to about 1 gram of protein in coconut or almond milk. Ripple also contains half the sugar of cows’ milk — which plays well with the consumer trend of reducing sugars in their diets — plus it contains 50 percent more calcium, vitamin D and iron. Ripple’s pea milk line includes original, chocolate, unsweetened original, vanilla and unsweetened vanilla varieties. Ripple also offers a pea-based half and half product.

New non-dairy hemp milk is a segment with “potential for rapid growth,” Packaged Facts said, as consumers seek new varieties within the plant-based beverage segment. Currently, only 1 percent of the North American population has ever tried a food or beverage made with hemp, according to participants in the hemp production industry. Hemp is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based protein and 10 essential amino acids.

While quinoa has become a common ingredient in the food space, it has yet to significantly penetrate the beverage segment. However, it is about to, Packaged Facts said. Quinoa milk is high in protein, fiber, vitamins and 9 essential amino acids. It also contains minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and phosphorus and has a low glycemic index.

 

Oatly
Oatly, a Swedish company, has reintroduced its oat milk-based product in the United States.
 

Another plant-based variety Nielsen said to watch is oats. The Swedish company Oatly has reintroduced its product in the United States, and Nielsen sees possibilities.

“When it was first introduced in the US, Oatly never quite took hold,” she said. “Now they are coming in from the barista point of view; now they are making a real concerted effort to reenter the US market, and they are doing well in New York and out here in California.”