KANSAS CITY — Oat-based products are on track to lead plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

“Oat-based products competing in the U.S. dairy category across milk, cream, ready-to-drink and yogurt segments have had a great 12 months,” said Andy Coyne, food correspondent at GlobalData. “As the plant-based dairy alternative category grows, oats are increasingly likely to be seen as the ingredient that shifts these products into the mainstream.”

While almond milk is currently the top seller in the plant-based dairy alternative category, many believe oat-based products are the better option for traditional dairy consumers because it is closer to what they are used to, GlobalData said.

“The opinion of many food industry analysts is oat milk tastes better than other plant-based dairy alternatives,” Mr. Coyne said. “It has a creamy consistency and it performs a lot like dairy milk in hot drinks.”

The popularity of oat milk began to climb in 2016, when Swedish oat milk brand Oatly launched in the United States. Three years later, oat milk sales surged 636% in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 26, 2019, according to Nielsen.

“Scandinavian company Oatly disrupted the category by targeting specialist coffee shops and baristas and then letting the brand build through word of mouth,” Mr. Coyne said. “They have been joined by numerous start-up companies and 'Big Food' players such as Danone and Chobani, ironically dairy businesses themselves.”

View slideshow of recent oat milk innovation.