Plant-based dairy alternative beverages
Plant-based dairy alternative beverages set to surge in 2018.

ROCKVILLE, MD. — Move over, cows' milk. Make way for milk made from barley, hemp and quinoa, just a few of the plant-based dairy alternative beverages set to surge in 2018, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

The market for dairy and dairy alternative beverages will reach a projected $28 billion by 2021, Packaged Facts said. Leading that charge will be plant-based dairy alternatives, which are forecast to represent 40% of the combined total of dairy and dairy alternative beverages — up 25% in 2016 when dairy alternative beverage alone accounted for $6 billion in retail sales.

This shift away from traditional dairy products stems from growing consumer perception that plant-based foods are healthier than animal-based foods, Packaged Facts said. Additionally, animal welfare concerns have motivated more consumers to opt for plant-based products over animal-based ones.

David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts
David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts

“Vegetarians and vegans together account for less than 15% of all consumers, and their numbers do not grow very rapidly, but a growing number of consumers identify themselves as flexitarian or lessitarian, meaning that they’ve cut back on their consumption of animal-based foods and beverages,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “It is this group that is most responsible for the significant and ongoing shift from dairy milk to plant-based milk.”

In the past few years, several nut- and legume- based milk alternatives have stepped onto the scene beyond the typical soy, rice, coconut and almond varieties. New non-dairy offerings include products made from cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan and tiger nuts. Additionally, non-dairy milks made from bananas, cassava, oats and potatoes are popping up.

These new and novel non-dairy milks are expected to find a wider audience in 2018, Packaged Facts said. The company identified five varieties to watch in the New Year: