7 Dairy-Free Growth Markets

Nov 21, 2016

  • There’s no denying the substantial global market for dairy products, but there’s also no denying that there are many consumers who now prefer to avoid dairy altogether. These shoppers are now finding a new—and steadily growing—supply of alternative dairy products that weren’t previously available. In fact, the market potential for dairy-free has increased so much that even established dairy companies want in on the action. Dairy giant Danone, which owns more than a dozen brands around the world, recently agreed to purchase WhiteWave Foods for $10.4 billion. The latter company owns several successful dairy-free brands, including Silk, So Delicious, and Vega.

    Market research firms are confirming all of this dairy-free interest, too. Earlier this year, Grand View Research predicted that global dairy alternatives will amass over $35 billion in sales by 2024. While much of that growth will likely be in plant-based milks, dairy-free opportunities go well beyond just a cup of soy milk. Today, consumers can find dairy-free options for many products, including snacks, desserts, and even dietary supplements. Much of what once contained dairy can now be made without it.


    Photo from Ripple Foods

  • Milk

    Plant-based milks are the champions of the dairy-free food trend, and this leading dairy-free category still has room to grow. For even as soy milk declines somewhat in popularity, demand for almond, coconut, and other alternatives is on the rise.

    After years of buzz, pea-milk launches are finally happening, including this summer’s release of Ripple, a line of sweetened and unsweetened protein-rich pea milks. Royal Hawaiian Orchards, known for its many macadamia nut snacks, is getting in on the profits, too, with macadamia nut milks.

    Flavored milks are all the rage now, too, and go way beyond chocolate and strawberry. Examples include Los Angeles–based beverage company Califia Farms’ new Matcha Almondmilk and Ginger Almondmilk products—two trending flavors in the market today. And while flavored options are undeniably intriguing, some market researchers predict that original and unsweetened versions—enjoyed by many and often preferred in household cooking—will still maintain equal or greater interest.

    Photo from Ripple Foods

  • Lattés, Creamers, and More

    Creamers and milk-containing coffees are a natural extension of milk and, as such, the next step for dairy-free alternatives. Califia Farms stepped in this year with a host of new vegan launches, including cold-brew, plant-milk lattés and coffees. These products join the company’s existing line of plant-based creamers and milks.

    Photo from Califia Farms

  • Ice Cream

    A handful of companies are dedicated to entirely-dairy-free ice cream. So Delicious, for example, is best known for its collection of ice creams made from coconut milk, and has expanded with other desserts based on soy, almond, and now cashew milk.

    Dairy-based dessert brands are also heeding the call. Ben & Jerry’s recently announced new vegan options for its customers, including two adaptations of popular existing flavors, and two flavors only available in the dairy-free format.

    Photo from So Delicious

  • Cheese

    Dairy foods are beloved not only for their taste and nutrition, but also for their functional properties like texture so integral to many of the world’s favorite dishes. Cheese is one example. Now, dairy-free-cheese producers are debuting products that can still achieve the functionality needed from dairy cheeses.

    The dairy-free cheese company Daiya recently announced a reformulation of its dairy-free cheese blocks. The new version, the firm says, imparts improved milky flavors and firmer texture compared to other alternative cheeses. The products are made in part from tapioca, pea protein, and vegan natural flavors. They’re intended to be consumed as is or incorporated into other foods.

    Photo from Daiya

  • Chocolate and Cookies

    More often than not, chocolate is sold to the masses as milk chocolate. But there are ways to manufacture chocolate products without the dairy additive. One of the latest such examples comes from Free2B, a sweets company devoted to ensuring its products are free of all major allergens. For some time, the company’s products were free of 7 of 8 leading food allergens. By the end of this year, it plans to make its entire portfolio free of the final allergen, dairy.

    Other dessert makers are also eliminating the dairy to help consumers avoid allergies or simply to appeal to personal preferences. Enjoy Life is one of those companies, and its extensive line of dairy-free bars, cookies, and other sweet temptations is a testament to its success. The company’s latest launch is a line of mini cookies.

    Photo from Free2B

  • Energy Bars

    Being dairy-free isn’t necessarily a primary marketing point for superfoods brand Amazing Grass, which offers whole-green nutritional powders; still, many of the firm’s new launches naturally drift into dairy-free recipes. Several of its new organic superfood bars draw from the sweetness of chocolate, minus the milk. It’s a reminder that dairy-free doesn’t always have to be a product’s focal point.

    Photo from Amazing Grass

  • Probiotics

    Although dairy ingredients are less often found in dietary supplements than they are in food, they are prevalent in some dietary supplement categories, such as probiotics. Depending on the probiotic strain, these friendly bacteria are sometimes produced from fermented milk.

    Recognizing growing demand for dairy-free probiotics, VSL Pharmaceuticals recently relocated its probiotic production site to a facility where probiotics can be made without risk of dairy contamination. The move should especially help the company’s VSL#3 product, marketed as a medical food for people with irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis who are often likely to be lactose-intolerant. The company says the switch to a dairy-free process will have no negative implications for its existing bacterial formulas.

    Photo from VSL Pharmaceuticals