Almost a quarter (23%) of British consumers used plant-based milk alternatives in the three months to February 2019, up from 19% in 2018, according to new Mintel research.
Growth of milk alternatives is said to be largely fuelled by more recent category entrants such as oat, coconut and almond variants, all of which have grown in availability in 2018.
While plant-based milk alternatives continue to grow in popularity, they accounted for just 4% of volume sales and 8% of value sales of white milk in 2018.
Furthermore, their use in cooking and hot drinks remains limited. Only 25% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use these products in cooking, compared to 42% for standard cow’s milk users, according to Mintel. The difference is even wider with hot drinks, where 42% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use them in hot drinks, compared to 82% for standard cow’s milk users.
Emma Clifford, associate director of UK food and drink at Mintel, said: “Plant-based milk alternatives continue to make further inroads into the mainstream, with high levels of innovation activity such as the entrance of Innocent Drinks to the market in 2018.
“Growth in this segment forms part of a much wider plant-based movement, driven by concerns around health, ethics and the environment, as well as by consumers’ love of variety in their diets.
“The shift towards the higher-priced plant-based alternatives will carry on, helping to add value to the market overall. Consumer interest in advice on how these alternatives suit different usage occasions signals marked potential to boost usage among current users and non-users alike.”
Use of standard cow’s milk is sliding among 16-24-year-old consumers in Britain, falling from 79% in 2018 to 73% in 2019. While cow’s milk still accounted for most white milk sales in 2018 (96%), usage of this family favourite is increasingly skewed towards older consumers, peaking at 92% among over-45s, Mintel research suggests.
This fall in usage among 16-24s comes as 37% of this age group say they have reduced how much standard cow’s milk they have used in the last 12 months for health reasons. Environmental concerns are also playing a role, with 16-24s most likely (36%) to agree that dairy farming has a negative impact on the environment.
Clifford added: “With volume sales of cow’s milk already on a downward trend, the fact that more young consumers are turning away from these products does not bode well for this segment’s prospects in the long-term. Efforts from the industry to remind young consumers of the benefits of using cow’s milk, and dairy more widely, for example in terms of health, are needed.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019