The staggering numbers presented by Innova Market Insights come as no surprise when you think about the growing number of vegan and dairy-free alternatives you see in your local grocery stores. According to the latest trend report from Innova, globally, the plant-based milk market is expected to reach 16.3 billion in 2018, up from 7.4 billion in 2010. Now, with more and more large food processing companies investing in vegan and plant-based markets, the availability of dairy-free products has significantly risen and has made its way into the homes of consumers wanting healthier options.

Recent investments in the dairy-free milk space include the acquisition of White Wave, the parent company of So Delicious, by Danone and the announcement by China’s leading food processor Want Want, that it too would be expanding its soy and plant-based beverage market. This comes in tandem with the widely publicized investments and expansions by Tyson, Maple Leaf, and Pinnacle Foods into the meat-free and plant-based markets. Now, dairy-free alternatives are taking a seat at the forefront of the plant-based table.

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With the rise in lactose intolerance, milk allergies, growing caution over hormones and antibiotics in dairy, as well as animal welfare concerns, consumers are actively seeking dairy-free alternatives. The increase in awareness of the benefits of plant-based milk products such as soy and almond milk are also key factors in the industry’s growth. According to Innova’s report, this trend is not just U.S. based but the global market is seeing growing numbers as a whole.

China alone is seeing tremendous growth in the dairy-alternative drink sector with a Compound Annual Growth Rate(CAGR) of 17.8 percent forecast between 2010 and 2018, reaching a market value of $6.7 billion. According to Innova’s report, the U.S. market, though not quite as impressive as China’s, has a CAGR of 10 percent. The report shows that the dairy alternative drinks sector accounted for seven percent of global dairy launches in 2016, which was up from five percent in 2015. 

Innova’s report is an indication that a food industry dominated by plant-based proteins and alternatives is not as far off as many would think. “Plant-Powered Growth” was one of Innova’s top trends for 2017 and they plan to present new data on food trends at the IFT Food Expo in Las Vegas. As proven through Innova’s insights, investing in plant-based, vegan, and dairy-free alternatives is not only a smart move but a necessary one for food companies that want to stay in touch with consumer needs and trends.

Image Souce: Azonman/Shutterstock

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