It seems like there’s no stopping the upward growth of the plant-based milk industry. Sales for the U.S. dairy industry have seen a steady decline of 25 percent per capita since the mid-1970s, according to data from the USDA. While the dairy industry is slowly becoming a thing of the past, sales in the plant-based milk industry are booming. In California, some dairy farms were doing so poorly, in terms of sales, that they’ve been converted to almond groves. In New York, 92-year-old dairy plant Elmhurst Dairy closed its doors only to rebrand itself as Elmhurst, maker of minimally processed plant-based milks. And recently, food industry giant Danone sealed the deal on its acquisition of White Wave Foods, a maker of plant-based milks and other dairy-free products. But it’s not just U.S. companies that see a lucrative future in the plant-based milk industry.
Want Want China Holdings Ltd., one of China’s largest processed foods companies, which is known for its dairy products such as a top-selling children’s milk drink, has its sights set on plant-based milk. Reported by Bloomberg, the company plans to introduce a line of oat and soy milks later this year. According to a report from Bloomberg, at the China Dairy Summit in Beijing, Want Want’s general director of research and development, Alex Chen Junjiang, spoke to the future success of their line of plant-based milk, stating: “We’ve put lots of investment into researching and developing kids’ packet products like oat milk, coconut milk and cereal milk that we’ll soon be introducing in the market. Growth momentum has been missing in the last few years but we think that it’s returning.” Want Want will be joining Taiwan-listed company Wei Chuan Foods Corp, which offers a best-selling oat milk.
The Chinese dairy milk market has stagnated in recent years as consumer interests shift from liquid milk to yogurt, cheese, and plant-based milk. In terms of sales, Want Want forecasts the plant-based milk market to double to about $55 billion yuan ($8 billion USD) within the next 2-3 years. The Chinese dairy milk industry was worth $110 billion in 2016, meaning that in a few years’ time, Want Want predicts that the Chinese plant-based milk industry will be worth nearly half of that, which speaks volumes to the massive potential of the plant-based milk industry. Dairy isn’t just going out of style in the U.S. — other countries are catching on to the growing demand for plant-based milk.
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