Dairy Trends and Dairy Alternatives: Global Impact

Explore the latest dairy and dairy alternatives trends, including consumer insights and purchase drivers

March 6, 2024 – Each year, Innova Market Insights Top 10 Trends offers a peak into food and beverage industry opportunities for the coming 12 months. Innova bases these trends on global forces, consumer insights, and movement in the food and beverage industry. Several of the trends for 2024 describe exciting changes in dairy trends and products, as well as plant-based dairy alternatives.

Consumer Trends Prioritize Prevention

Consumers are being proactive about their health to prevent future illnesses. In fact, more than 1 in 3 consumers are proactive toward prevention. This drives consumer trends toward products for personal health and wellbeing. Claims for several health benefits that can be tied to nutrients in dairy products are expanding. These include joint health, which is up 254% in one year from a small base, skin health, and brain health.

Other aspects of holistic health offer opportunities for dairy products. Mental wellbeing is part of holistic health for nearly two-thirds of consumers. Regarding their mental health, main consumer concerns include stress and anxiety, tiredness and fatigue, and depression. New dairy products with mental health benefits include an Italian dairy product that includes valerian to promote sleep and relaxation, along with vitamin B6 to address tiredness and fatigue. Another dairy product with mental health benefits is a Japanese dairy drink with GABA for improved sleep quality.

Consumer trends show a connection between holistic health and digestive and gut health, and also consumer preference for dairy products with added health benefits. According to consumer trends, a notable percentage of people are curious about fermentation in dairy products. Global dairy trends show that a new yogurt launched in Australia offers probiotic strains for immunity, prebiotic dietary fiber for digestive health, and calcium, the classic dairy nutrient. Prebiotics plus postbiotics are on-trend for dairy products.

Dairy Trends

Nurturing Nature Is a Top Trend in Dairy Products

According to consumer trends, more than 1 in 3 consumers look for package claims about animal welfare. This aligns with dairy industry actions regarding grass-fed cows. Consumers also believe that carbon emissions are closely connected to sustainability. Dairy trends reveal product claims regarding carbon footprint are on the rise. Consumer trends also support sustainability in dairy through regenerative agriculture. One-quarter of consumers globally are looking for regenerative farming claims, and the dairy market has responded with solid growth in dairy products with a regenerative agriculture claim.

Dairy Products and Ingredients in the Spotlight

Innova’s number one trend for 2024 calls attention to ingredients that take the spotlight. Consumer trends show that consumers look for ingredients of interest, led by protein, on the product pack. Nearly half of consumers say that milk and cheese are their preferred protein sources. Consumers also look for natural ingredients, and a clean label are still important aspects for dairy consumers. In fact, natural ingredients are a main influencer of dairy trends and consumption. Dairy trends show protein ingredients appear in many foods, including a cookie with a dairy protein blend and a waffle mix with dry yogurt.

Dairy Products Can Be Healthy and Indulgent

Consumer trends support foods that are both healthy and indulgent, and consumers show willingness to compromise on indulgence for healthier food. Dairy trends show that dairy products offer the best of both worlds, including ice cream and frozen yogurt with active health claims. Consumers also seek healthier dairy snacks – baked not fried, gluten-free, and sugar-free or no added sugar.

Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives Stand Out

For the past several years, an Innova Top 10 Trend has focused on plant-based. Consumers in 2024 are excited about plant-based products that help them adapt favorite dishes. Dairy trends show that consumers say that they have increased their consumption of dairy alternative products such as non-dairy milk, plant-based yogurt, and plant-based cheese because of the growing variety.

Plant-based dairy alternatives are becoming more diversified. The fastest growing dairy alternative subcategories include plant-based butter alternatives, plant-based margarines and spreads, and spoonable non-dairy yogurt. Innovations in the US include fungi-based yogurt; other plant-based innovations include plant-based kefir, oat milk drinks with boba, and vegan mochi.

Trendspotting in Plant-Based Ingredients in Dairy Alternatives

The Innova Top 10 Trend “Prioritizing Prevention” describes movement in plant-based dairy. Consumers name health as the top driver for consuming less dairy. Their key health-related reasons for having plant-based dairy alternatives include digestive health, protein, calcium, and energy.

Consumer trends show that consumers are most familiar with and willing to buy plant-based dairy alternatives made from almond, rice, coconut, or oat. Because soy is so common in Asia, Asian consumers are the most willing to buy soy-based meat substitutes and dairy alternatives.

Plant-based dairy alternatives follow trends. Fast-growing plant-based ingredients in dairy alternatives include lupin, peanut milk, and cashew nuts. Sustainability as part of the Innova Top 10 Trend “Nurturing Nature” is a key topic for dairy alternatives. A notable proportion of consumers globally say that plant-based dairy alternatives are better or much better than regular dairy products in terms of sustainability. Dairy alternatives with a forest protection-related claim also are on the rise.

This article is based on our insider report, “Top Trends 2024: Dairy & Dairy Alternatives – Global.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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