A quarter of Brits use plant-based milk

From almond to oat and coconut to pea, British consumers are increasingly opting for plant-based milk alternatives, according to research from Mintel.

Almost a quarter (23%) of Brits used plant-based milk alternatives in the three months to February 2019, up from 19% in 2018.

Plant-based milk alternatives are most popular among women and those aged 16-24, with 26% and 33% opting for these varieties respectively.

Growth of milk alternatives is largely fuelled by oat (volume sales of which grew 71% between 2017-18), coconut (up 16% between 2017-18) and almond variants (up 10% between 2017-18), all of which grew in visibility and availability in 2018.

However, plant-based milk alternatives accounted for just 4% of volume sales and 8% of value sales of white milk in 2018.

Only 25% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use these products in cooking, compared to 42% for standard cow’s milk users. Just 42% of plant-based milk alternatives consumers use them in hot drinks, compared to 82% for standard cow’s milk users. Nevertheless, a fifth (21%) of Brits believe nut milks add more flavour to drinks than cow’s milk.

Highlighting that there are more opportunities for further growth in the plant-based milk alternatives trend, 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.

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. 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.”

16-24s lose taste for standard cow’s milk

Usage of standard cow’s milk is sliding among 16-24-year-olds, falling from 79% in 2018 to 73% in 2019. While cow’s milk still accounted for the vast majority of white milk sales in 2018 (96%), usage peaks at 92% among over-45s.

This fall in usage among 16-24s comes as 37% of this age group say they have reduced how much standard cow’s milk they have used in the last 12 months for health reasons. Environmental concerns are also playing a role, with 16-24s most likely (36%) to agree that dairy farming has a negative impact on the environment. The significantly lower usage of cow’s milk among the younger generation is also in line with these consumers being most likely to report dairy avoidance in their household, at 26% of under-35s.

“With volume sales of cow’s milk already on a downward trend, the fact that more young consumers are turning away from these products does not bode well for this segment’s prospects in the long-term. Efforts from the industry to remind young consumers of the benefits of using cow’s milk, and dairy more widely, for example in terms of health, are needed,” said Emma.

The ethical milk drinker

Mintel research highlights the importance of ethics and the environment for the milk and dairy industry as a third (33%) of milk, milk drinks and cream users are interested in products in a bottle/pot made wholly/partly of recycled plastics. Meanwhile, a quarter (27%) of users are interested in products with a guarantee of sustainable farming. Around one in seven (15%) users would be interested in products with an on-pack statement of how many days the animals spent outside.

40% of users would pay more than £1.20 for a 4-pinter

As many as 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,” said Emma.

Related content

Leave a reply

Food and Drink Technology