Hybrid-dairy diet may be key to meeting plant-based challenge, says GlobalData

The rise in plant-based dairy is less likely to be driven by anti-dairy sentiment, but rather pro-plant intentions. Major dairy players must devise ways to encourage consumers to incorporate both dairy and non-dairy products into their diets, rather than attempting to challenge or overlook the undeniable momentum of plant-based dairy, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report, ‘Top Trends in Dairy 2020’, reveals that it is the appeal of plant-based foods (29% of consumers are trying to increase their consumption of plant-based protein) rather than an aversion to dairy (12% are trying to reduce their dairy consumption) that is propelling non-dairy alternatives.

Katrina Diamonon, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData says: “Contented dairy consumers are not necessarily looking to replace their favoured dairy products – but they are becoming more ‘plant-curious’ as the merits of plant-based eating are increasingly recognized. Plant-based foods have proven a vital gateway through which consumers are discovering non-dairy options.

“‘Hybrid dairy’ is a future opportunity in the dairy space, given that plant-based dairy alternatives are being embraced by a broader segment of consumers beyond vegans. Products that combine the nutritional value of dairy with the virtuousness of plant-based alternatives have the potential to offer the “best of both worlds.”

“However, as with many hybrid formats, positioning is key. There is a risk that in attempting to please everyone such products will appeal to no one. In order to meet the plant-based challenge, traditional dairy manufacturers must keep in mind that dairy choices are based on a range of considerations, from nutritional and environmental to convenience and sensory.”

The rise of the ethical consumer need not spell doom for traditional dairy – particularly with the advent of ‘ethical dairy farming’, which may help mitigate ethical concerns surrounding conventional dairy production.

Diamonon concludes: “Plant-based dairy by no means enjoys an uncontested image of righteousness. Opportunities exist for both manufacturers of animal- and plant-based dairy products to address ethical concerns in an honest and transparent way in order to gain the trust of socially minded and well-informed consumers.”

* GlobalData’s 2019 Q3 global consumer survey.

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