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Milking the vegan trend

19 July 2019

New research from Mintel reveals that Brits are branching out in their milk tastes. Almost one-quarter used plant-based milk alternatives in the three months to February 2019, up from just 19% in 2018. 

The research found that 26% of women enjoy plant-based milk alternatives and as many as one-third of 16-24s opt for these varieties. Growth of milk alternatives is largely fuelled by more recent category entrants such as oat (volume sales of which grew 71% between 2017), coconut (up 16% between 2017-18) and almond variants (up 10% between 2017-18), all of which have grown in visibility as well as availability in 2018.

However, while plant-based milk alternatives continue to grow in popularity they accounted for just 4% of volume sales and 8% of value sales of white milk in 2018. Furthermore, their use in cooking and hot drinks remains limited. Only 25% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use these products in cooking, compared to 42% for standard cow’s milk users. The difference is even wider with hot drinks, where just 42% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use them in hot drinks, compared to 82% for standard cow’s milk users. Nevertheless, one-fifth of Brits believe nut milks add more flavour to drinks than cow’s milk.
This research highlights the opportunities for further growth in the plant-based milk alternatives trend. It was reported that 65% of plant-based milk users would welcome advice on how to use plant-based milk/cream alternatives in cooking/baking – with 24% of non-users also interested in such advice.
Commenting on the report findings, Emma Clifford, associate director of UK Food and Drink, said: “Plant-based milk alternatives continue to make further inroads into the mainstream, with high levels of innovation activity such as the entrance of Innocent Drinks to the market in 2018. Growth in this segment forms part of a much wider plant-based movement, driven by concerns around health, ethics and the environment, as well as by consumers’ love of variety in their diets.
“The shift towards the higher-priced plant-based alternatives will carry on, helping to add value to the market overall. Consumer interest in advice on how these alternatives suit different usage occasions signals marked potential to boost usage among current users and non-users alike.”
According to Mintel, up to 40% of standard white cow’s milk users would pay more than £1.20 for a four-pint bottle of milk, up from 35% in 2018. The price for a four-pint bottle of standard own-label milk stood at around £1.10 in April 2019, the same as in March 2018.
“This attitude aligns closely with our research which shows that 44% of people say small price rises in milk do not matter and reflect milk’s relatively small role in the overall grocery budgets,” concludes Clifford.

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