Dairy and Dairy Alternative Beverage Trends in the U.S., 3rd Edition

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Published Apr 27, 2015 | 164 Pages | Pub ID: LA5418013

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Dairy and Dairy Alternative Beverage Trends in the U.S.

Packaged Facts covers current trends in the market for dairy and dairy alternative beverages sold through all types of retail outlets. The next several years will see intensified competition between dairy and dairy alternative beverages as both consumer comfort with the alternatives and criticism of dairy foods continue to grow. Sales of plant-based dairy alternative beverages, especially almond milk, show no signs of slowing and new alternative sources, such as coconut and cashews, are expected to drive the alternative segment even faster and higher over the next several years. Some participants in the dairy alternative beverage category have even pushed for retailers to give plant milks their own refrigeration cases to help underscore the split from dairy beverages that alternative beverages marketers seek to to make.

Market Trends

Refrigerated dairy and dairy alternative beverages currently lead the market, and increasing sales of refrigerated dairy and dairy alternative beverages have grown significantly between 2010 and 2014. Especially strong as an alternative beverage has been almond milk, with other plant-based dairy alternative beverages also driving market growth. These alternative beverages are likely to lead the way in market expansion over the next several years. Other alternative beverages substituting milk have also experienced sale growth in recent years, prompting organizations representing farmers, processors, and marketers in the dairy industry to make a significant rebound in response to the growth of the dairy alternative beverage market. 

Organizations in the dairy industry note that the alternative beverage market leads in innovation. In response,  the dairy milk industry is fighting back to re-establish milk as a product that is just as innovative as never alternative beverages, with spokespersons expressing the frustration that has been building up through years of having dairy foods in general and milk in particular bashed by food and nutrition “experts.” The National Dairy Council, the Milk Process Education Program (MilkPEP),and the Dairy Management Institute (DMI) collaborating in the “GetReal” campaign, launched in January 2015, to counter what the dairy industry perceives as misconceptions about dairy milk.  

Looking ahead, the battles will include the dairy forces stressing the protein levels of their products, along with other healthy added ingredients such as "ancient grains." New dairy milk products testing the waters against alternative beverages at the premium level will become more prevalent. More flavored milks will be introduced, including limited edition holiday and seasonal flavors. Also look for additional organic milk products, and for the dairy milk market to expand in other, more exotic ways.

But the dairy alternative marketers are not sitting on their hands as the competition intensifies from the dairy industry. They continue to launch new products and expand their marketing and advertising efforts to make sure the opportunity to gain ground doesn’t slip away. And more marketing muscle is expected to enhance the alternatives competitiveness as the soft drink industry, which like dairy milk competes with dairy alternatives, gets in the game via the acquisition route. Food industry analysts are waiting to see whether Coca-Cola or PepsiCo will be the first to announce a major takeover of a top alternative brand. Other major beverage companies not currently involved may make the entry into the alternative beverage market as well. 

Scope and Methodology

Dairy and Dairy Alternative Beverage Trends in the U.S. covers the dairy and dairy alternative beverages sold through all types of retail outlets, including supermarkets, discount stores and supercenters, warehouse clubs, and mass merchandisers, as well as convenience stores, drugstores, health and natural food stores, dollar stores, farms and farmers markets.

Market estimates within this report were based on both public and syndicated data sources. Packaged Facts has analyzed available sales and trend data, together with information pertaining to those products that move through unmonitored outlets, to estimate the total size of the market for the products in the categories under consideration.

Sales and market size data sources include:

  • IRI sales tracking through U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (including Target, Kmart, and Wal-Mart) with annual sales of $2 million or more.
  • U.S. Census Bureau retail food sales data from the Economic Census surveys, annual retail channel sales, non-employer statistics.
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic analysis annual estimates for consumer spending by food type
  • Major food and beverage retailer annual reports for individual retailer sales

Packaged Facts also draws on a proprietary Packaged Facts national online consumer survey conducted in January 2015.

Information on new product introductions was derived from examination of the retail milieu and from relevant trade, business, and government sources, including company literature and annual reports.



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