KANSAS CITY — Danone North America’s innovation pipeline has been an active one in 2019, churning out new yogurts, coffee creamers, smoothies and lattes. And while the company is the No. 4 dairy producer in the United States, according to Dairy Foods Magazine, the bulk of Danone’s recent innovation has been in the plant-based space, namely with oatmilk.
Danone’s focus on oatmilk falls in step with current industry trends in the plant-based milk alternative market. The global market for oatmilk products is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.2% between 2018 and 2027, according to a recent study by Future Market Insights (F.M.I.).
“Consumer demand for oat drinks is anticipated to experience lucrative demand, aided by the nutritious, healthy and vegan positioning of oat drinks,” F.M.I. said. “Consumers associate the organic certified oat drinks with something that is produced and processed in a chemical free manner, developing a perception that relates well with the functional health benefits of oat drinks.”
Within the past year, several other food and beverage manufacturers have introduced oatmilk products, including PepsiCo, Nestle S.A. and Califia Farms. At Expo West in March, oat milk offerings debuted from Elmhurst 1925, Mooala, RISE Brewing Co. and HP Hood L.L.C.’s Planet Oat brand.
“Something that was once just a mere specialty item for health-conscious consumers — organic oat drinks — has now become a staple in retail channels globally." — F.M.I.
“Something that was once just a mere specialty item for health-conscious consumers — organic oat drinks — has now become a staple in retail channels globally,” F.M.I. said. “The availability of organic oat drinks is increasing, and this is enhancing its popularity. The propensity to spend more on organic oat drinks as compared to conventional oat drinks has increased in consumers. This has acted favorably for the oat drinks market. As a result, sales of organic oat drinks have increased positively.”
Seeking a slice of these sales, Danone has gone all in on oatmilk in 2019. In January, the company launched Oat Yeah, a new brand of oatmilk products within its Silk business. The brand debuted with Silk Oat Yeah Oatmilk, free of dairy, soy and cholesterol. The Vegan Action certified and Non-GMO Project verified oatmilk offers an “ultra-creamy texture and a balance taste for versatility,” Danone said. Varieties include The Plain One, The Vanilla One, The Chocolate One and The 0g Sugar One.
“As the plant-based pioneer, Silk has more than 25 years of expertise in making delicious, dairy-free beverages,” said Nikita McKinney, senior brand manager for Silk. “Since introducing our soymilk, we’ve continued to modernize and grow the entire category by offering delicious new dairy-free alternatives like almondmilk, cashewmilk, coconutmilk, and now, Oat Yeah oatmilk. Oat Yeah oatmilk is a great choice to help you make progress in the new year — whether you are nut-free, dairy-free or simply a flavor enthusiast.”
Danone expanded the Oat Yeah brand into the yogurt aisle in July with Silk Oat Yeah Oatmilkgurt. The oatmilk yogurt alternatives combine gluten-free oats with live and active cultures and come in vanilla, mixed berry, strawberry and mango flavors. All varieties are dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified.
“Creating a yogurt alternative was the natural next step after our well-received Silk Oat Yeah Oatmilk beverage launch earlier this year,” said Joshua Cook, brand manager of plant-based yogurt for Silk. “Oat Yeah Oatmilk Yogurt Alternatives are a tasty option for any person looking to make progress toward their health and wellness goals — whether they have specific dietary needs or are simply looking to try something new.”
In early August, Danone grew the Oat Yeah brand again with the launch of Silk Oat Yeah Oatmilk Creamer. Made with gluten-free oats, the creamers are dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified. Oat Yeah Oatmilk Creamers are available in two flavors: The Vanilla One and The Oatmeal Cookie One.
“Oatmilk first gained popularity with coffee lovers in lattes from their favorite coffee shops,” said Martha Opela, senior brand manager of better-for-you creamers for the Silk brand. “Now, with Oat Yeah Oatmilk Creamers, that experience is just as easy to enjoy at home. They’re deliciously creamy, gluten- and nut-free for those with food sensitivities and are entirely plant-based versus traditional dairy creamers.”
Danone’s So Delicious Dairy Free brand also dived into the oatmilk trend this year.
In February, the company launched So Delicious Dairy Free Oatmilk Frozen Desserts, featuring a creamy oat milk base blended with ingredients such as fruit, caramel and cookie dough. Certified vegan, Non-GMO Project verified and certified gluten-free, the desserts are available in three varieties: Peanut Butter & Raspberry, made with peanut butter and black raspberries; Oatmeal Cookie, featuring oatmeal cookie dough with brown sugar and cinnamon; and Caramel Apple Crumble, which combines apple, cinnamon and brown sugar with a caramel swirl.
“We pride ourselves on our expertise in the ice cream aisle with our current line of Frozen Mousse, along with cashew and coconut-based frozen products, and we’re excited to now introduce our oatmilk-based line,” said Jennifer Michuda, senior brand manager for So Delicious. “Oatmilk’s creamy texture and neutral taste really allow the flavors to shine through. The new line of frozen desserts brings oatmilk out of the beverage aisle and into a new category of dairy-free delights. Plus, our oatmilk frozen desserts will be available across the country.”
So Delicious Dairy Free moved its oatmilk into the yogurt aisle in July with new Oatmilk Yogurt Alternatives. Made with gluten-free oats and live and active cultures, the dairy-free yogurts come in four flavors: triple berry; spiced pear and fig; strawberry rhubarb; and sweet mango. Each flavor is nut-free, soy-free, certified vegan, certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified.
“Oatmilk’s creamy texture is the perfect base for a yogurt alternative, and each of our artisanal flavors have been thoughtfully chosen to excite taste buds,” said Joshua Cook, brand manager of plant-based yogurt for So Delicious Dairy Free. “The new Oatmilk Yogurt Alternatives are perfect for a morning breakfast, an on-the-go snack or as an ingredient in other delicious dairy-free delights.”
In early September, Danone debuted So Delicious Dairy Free Oatmilk Creamers. Made with gluten-free oats, the creamers are dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, Vegan Action certified and Non-GMO Project verified. So Delicious Oatmilk Creamers are available in three varieties: original, with zero grams of added sugar; vanilla; and limited-edition snickerdoodle, available through January 2020.
“We’re thrilled to continue expanding the So Delicious oatmilk portfolio by introducing the new Oatmilk Creamers line,” Ms. Michuda, said. “As we head into the fall and winter months, with hot coffee at the forefront of everyone’s day, we’re delighted to launch the new, creamy Oatmilk Creamers to help elevate your morning coffee.”
Beyond its Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free Brands, Danone also unveiled oatmilk innovation from its Stok Cold Brew brand. In March, Stok Oatmilk Cold-Brew Coffee Latte hit the shelves. The dairy-free, gluten-free and certified vegan latte contains 135 mg of caffeine per 12-oz serving and is made with seven ingredients: coffee, oatmilk, cane sugar, high oleic sunflower oil, natural flavor, salt and gellan gum.
“At Stok, we take the craft of cold-brew coffee seriously — but we also like to tinker with our recipes and have some fun,” said Lindsey Morgan, marketing director for Stok Cold Brew. “Our new Oatmilk Latte offers coffee fans a delicious, creamy and ready-to-drink brew that they can enjoy whenever the need for a pick-me-up strikes.”