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Demand for milk and milk drinks continues to rise globally, particularly with growing populations in developing regions consuming dairy products for health and as a sign of rising household income. Milk and milk drinks are facing tremendous pressure, however, from plant based dairy alternatives that are positioned as equally healthy but more ethical and sustainable. Dairy companies are fighting back with new products that offer stepped up health benefits and sustainable production.

Global growth of milk and milk drinks is modest and steady, with a forecast CAGR of 3.6 percent by value and 4.3 percent by volume, 2010-2022F. The rising appeal of milk and milk drinks in developing regions such as Latin America and Asia – China is one of the fastest growing countries because of its population size – offsets weaker growth in West Europe and North America, the traditional dairy regions.

New product development (NPD) in Asia exemplifies several Innova 2019 top trends. ‘Eating for Me’ highlights the consumer seeking products to satisfy personal preferences, including age- and health-related needs. The Asian milk category includes products marked to specific age groups, as milk is seen as a healthy product to give to the young and old in particular. Vitamin- and mineral-fortified products are up by 76 percent, 2013-2018, while protein claims have more than doubled over the same period. Examples are Botora Yixuan Milk Powder For Middle Aged And Elderly (China, Mar 2019), developed for seniors, contains calcium, selenium and probiotics and Anchor Boneeto Milk Drink With Strawberry Flavor (Indonesia, Apr 2019) offers high calcium, source of vitamins A, B1, B2 and D3, magnesium and zinc.

A 2019 top trend ‘A Fresh Look at Fiber’ brings renewed interest in this classic ingredient along with a four-fold increase in products with high/source of fiber claims, 2013-2018.

In West Europe, well-established multinational companies headquartered in Europe drive NPD. Supporting ‘Eating for Me’, lactose free milk NPD is on the rise, with the number of product launches nearly doubling, and fiber-enriched products showing similar growth from a smaller base. Sugar-reduced and protein-enhanced milk and milk drinks are becoming more common. The 2019 trending ‘Discovery: The Adventurous Consumer’ can choose from a growing array of indulgent flavors. Products are building on their ‘Green Appeal’, another top trend, with ethical claims around animal welfare, sustainable packaging, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and/or water conservation. Examples include Mimosa Milk And Almond Drink (Portugal, Feb 2019), contains added inulin for fiber and Candia Grandlait Lactose Free Fresh Milk (France, Mar 2019) guarantees traceability, positive animal welfare, recyclable packaging and is locally sourced.

Latin American fortification of milk and milk drinks is commonplace. High/source of protein claims are on the rise, bone health claims linked with calcium content have more than doubled over a five-year period, and dairy companies are adding lactose free products to their ranges. Mexico’s Grupo Lala markets a full range of lactose free variations of flavored, fiber-enriched, and fortified milks. Dos Pinos, of Costa Rica, ultrafilters its milk to concentrate the calcium and protein content. (See below Lala Lactose Free Milk With Extra Calcium (Mexico, Apr 2019), fortified with calcium, contains 52 percent more calcium than standard milk, lactose free, fortified with vitamins A, D and K, no preservatives, high protein. Dos Pinos Plus Protein Skimmed Lactose Free Milk (Costa Rica, Apr 2019), high in protein and calcium, due to ultrafiltration, lactose free, fat free, fortified with iron, vitamins A, D and folic acid.)

Health and wellness is the key macro trend impacting the North American milk and milk drinks category. Protein intake continues to be important and lactose free appeals to a subset of consumers. ‘Green Appeal’ places expectations on the dairy industry’s impact on the environment and animal welfare. The 2019 trend ‘Snacking: The Definitive Occasion’ recasts milk and milk drinks as snacks and small meals rather than purely refreshment. Companies are adding ingredients such as protein and cereals for hunger/satiation, and using snacking terminology in product names. Examples are Horizon Organic Protein Reduced Fat Milk (US, Jan 2019) organic, milk from pasture raised cows, Certified B Corporation and Fairlife Smart Snacks Rich Chocolate Nutrition Shake With Honey And Oats (US, Sep 2018) Smart snack for ”when you’re feeling hungry.”

Looking forward, the dairy industry will continue to be under scrutiny, particularly regarding its sustainability commitments and comparisons made to the lower environmental impact of dairy alternatives. The promotion of the natural health benefits of milk, as well as added and concentrated nutrients, will continue to be a focus for NPD.

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