What's New in Plant-Based Dairy and the Future of Animal-Free

March 2022

From plant-made milk and yoghurt to cheese alternatives, the dairy-free space continues to see very dynamic innovation, delivering strong growth and attracting key dairy players into the space. This report analyses the consumer drivers behind the success of this industry, key hotspots for growth and the latest innovation in the space, including the developments in precision fermentation and cell-cultured dairy to achieve animal-free alternatives.

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Key findings

Health reasons  and young generations: key driving forces of the dairy-free trend

Plant-based dairy alternatives have revolutionised the dairy industry. More consumers are choosing these options, and they are mainly driven by health reasons, including better digestion. Also, there is a clear generational pattern with younger generations increasingly looking for plant-based offerings.

Plant-based milk accounts for 90% of the dairy-free industry and Western markets drive growth

Plant-based dairy continues to surge in popularity across the globe, with Western markets amassing the greatest potential. Plant-based milk is the largest contributor to the dairy-free industry and where much of the innovation is happening. Oats are growing rapidly and new entrants like barley and potato milk emerging.

Plant-based cheese develops quickly with the key cheese strongholds jumping into this opportunity

Plant-based yoghurt and ice cream remain small categories globally but continue to gain ground. If there is one category where innovation has been boosted in recent times it is dairy-free cheese, with recent launches from flagship cheese brands such as Philadelphia and Babybel.

Replicating dairy characteristics while keeping clean ingredients lists remains a challenge to overcome

The future of plant-based alternatives will be driven by efforts directed towards replicating dairy as much as possible, from improving the nutritional profile to matching the versatility, functionality, taste and texture of it, while keeping ingredients lists as clean label as possible.

Precision fermentation and cell-cultured technologies are underway

The long-term future of dairy alternatives will be driven by technology, most significantly precision fermentation and cell-based technologies, which consist of culturing mammary cells that lactate milk. These techniques will be able to replicate the full complexity of dairy.

Scope
Key findings
Free from dairy products: A bright future on the horizon
Taste and texture will be critical to attract the wider consumer base
Health is the top reason to follow dairy-free diets
Younger generations shape demand for plant-based foods
Western Europe and North America drive growth while Asia Pacific struggles
Milk alternatives have the potential to gain new consumers
Oats win share in the milk alternatives space
An increasingly diversified plant-based milk industry
New exciting entrants seek to break through
Western markets show the strongest opportunities for non-soy milk
Free from dairy yoghurt: The US is the bright star
Innovation aimed at replicating taste and texture of dairy-style yoghurt
The US and the Nordics stand out in dairy-free ice cream
Cheese breaks through in the dairy-free space in 2021
Leading dairy players jump into the plant-based cheese opportunity
Dairy-free options expand across the dairy spectrum including coffee creamers and kefir
Mimicking dairy vs clean label offerings: The plant-based challenge
Achieving a competitive nutritional profile and delicious taste is still a work in progress
New sources of plant-based protein are arriving
Nestlé’s Wunda brings a more versatile milk alternative to the table
Danone launches the “next generation” of plant-based milks
NotCo, the plant-based pioneer replicating the full complexity of dairy
Taste remains the main challenge to overcome
Tech-derived dairy alternatives are next in the pipeline
Technology helps to optimise plant-based ingredients to be used
Biomass fermentation creates fungi, algae and air protein for dairy-free products
Precision fermentation can disrupt the dairy industry as we know it
Ice cream was first to market but cheese sees the largest potential ahead
International players jump into precision fermentation technology
Animal-free dairy with animal-like proteins: Communication remains a challenge
Cell-cultured dairy is the last frontier in animal-free alternatives
Food for thought: Bright future ahead for the dairy-free industry

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