The overlap between coffee and dairy, especially in the critical coffee markets of Asia and North America, means that trends in plant-based dairy will play a key role in the future of coffee. Particularly important will be the emergence of animal-free cultivated dairy, which will represent an entirely new phase in the evolution of dairy alternatives and one in which the coffee industry will place a crucial role in winning mainstream acceptance.
Dairy is intimately tied into the future of coffee. RTDs and instant mixes generally feature dairy ingredients, as do many pods and a rapidly growing amount of foodservice coffee. This means that coffee is absorbing trends from the wider dairy space, particularly a move towards dairy alternatives. These alternatives will become increasingly important in the coffee space as well.
The emergent flexitarian demographic cares about their health and the environment, but of the two it is health that it the priority for them. Because dairy alternatives often provide both this is therefore largely a question of emphasis. Positioning of successful dairy alternatives in the future will therefore require articulation of their health benefits to wellness-focused consumers.
No plant base has gained share so fast as oat in the past few years, yet already competitors are already seeking to displace it. The next wave of plant-based milks will likely be blends that de-emphasise any one ingredient and focus on mimicking the taste of animal dairy. It is animal-free dairy however that is the segment to truly keep an eye on given its massive disruptive potential.
No single dairy alternative will ever gain total control of the market. Animal-free dairy has potential to be the largest long term but it is unlikely to ever entirely replace animal dairy. Nor will it even fully displace the plant-based milks, each of which have their supporters for taste and health reasons. Instead, where supply chains allow, the future will be one of numerous dairy options and consumers customising their beverage as they see fit.
This is the aggregation of Coffee, Tea, and Other Hot Drinks.See All of Our Definitions
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