US dairy milk sales expected to decline until 2020, Mintel report shows

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mintel analysts said dairy milk still has opportunities despite facing pressure from its plant-based counterparts.  Photo: ©iStock/bhofack2
Mintel analysts said dairy milk still has opportunities despite facing pressure from its plant-based counterparts. Photo: ©iStock/bhofack2

Related tags: Milk, Mintel

A recent Mintel report says the US dairy category will see a continuous sales decline, in contrast to its strong growth in 2014 when there was a combination of high milk prices, increased international demand, and dairy milk repositioning itself to align with health trends.

The market research firm forecast total US dairy milk sales to decrease to $15.9bn, an 11% drop during the 2015 to 2020 period.

Non-dairy to reach $3bn in four years

“US fluid milk consumption has been on the decline for decades... lower consumption comes as consumers increase their consumption of other beverages, challenging the dairy milk industry to be seen as more than a commodity, but rather something that can be consumed at multiple drinking occasions with a variety of benefits and applications,”​ Mintel said.

The growth of the non-dairy milk category will continue to threaten US dairy milk consumption, the report added.

“Growth of non-dairy milk will continue as consumers perceive it a better-for-you alternative to dairy milk, with more adults and families opting for plant-based beverages,”​ Mintel said.

“The majority of dairy milk consumers also say they have consumed non-dairy milk in the past three months.”

“Innovation within the category keeps consumers interested, and the wide variety of plant-based milks helps to meet a variety of consumers’ health needs and taste preferences,”​ Mintel added.

The current total sales of non-dairy milk in the US currently total around $2bn, but Mintel predicted the category will reach nearly $3bn by 2020 with continuous year-on-year growth.

However, the growing food trend on added protein has made some consumers question the amount of protein non-dairy milk could provide compared to traditional dairy milk.

Pea-based milk manufacturer, Ripple, said almond milk, which is the most popular non-dairy milk only contains one gram of protein per fluid ounce, while coconut-made beverage contains zero.

Ripple’s products offer eight grams of protein per eight fluid ounce, the same amount as its dairy counterpart.

What opportunities does dairy milk have?

Despite facing direct competition from plant-based dairy alternatives, Mintel said dairy manufacturers have other white space opportunities to take advantage of.

“Milk has long been known for benefiting bone health, but there is a much smaller percentage of consumers drinking dairy for heart or weight-loss benefits,”​ Mintel said.

“There is an opportunity to better highlight these attributes and expand consumers’ perceptions of dairy milk’s healthfulness.”

“However, with the majority of consumers drinking dairy milk because they like the taste, there should also be a stronger emphasis on milk’s taste profile. Liking the taste is a leading reason consumers drink the beverages they do.” 

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3 comments

Growing popularity of plant-based milk

Posted by Clint,

I predict that Ripple milk is really going to take off and become a huge brand. The taste is so similar to dairy milk. I'm surprised the article didn't mention that many people have concern about all the environmental destruction caused from dairy farming. Drinking dairy milk is very weird when you think about it – no other mammal on earth drinks its mothers milk as an adult, much less another species milk!

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Nothing better than cow milk

Posted by Flavio Uribe,

No plant-based "milks" match nutritoius value of cow milk proteins. Period.

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cows milk decline

Posted by dara,

Switch to plant based production! Dairy milk is unhealthy and cruel - it is destined to die.

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