Shipment value increased 42.8% over six years to $116.3bn, representing 15.9% of the total $731bn food and beverage industry.
While volume sales of milk have been slowly declining, the growth of cheese and yogurt products have helped the industry gain back some of those losses, PMMI found.
Simultaneously, manufacturers have been able to pass the rising price of milk used in those products on to the consumer.
“The consumption of fluid milk has been slowly decreasing, however the industry has been able to innovate, to recreate, and to find different niches successfully,” Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of global marketing at PMMI, told DairyReporter.
Snacking consumers revive dairy
The growth of other dairy categories is being driven by convenience and nutrition with products such as yogurt, dairy drinks, and cheese snacks performing particularly well, PMMI said.
“Ten years ago the yogurt market was quite small here in the US, but in the past five years innovation in that space has exploded,” Izquierdo said.
Marketing dairy snack towards kids is one area that has gained a lot of attention, Izqueirdo pointed out, as the snack market continues to move beyond carbohydrate-heavy snacks like chips and granola bars to more dairy products.
“Marketing towards kids is expanding beyond snack foods and cereals to more sophisticated foods containing legumes and dairy products as a dessert or snack,” the report stated.
Following this particular trend, Sargento recently launched its Sweet Balanced Breaks Snacks, which combines savory cheese flavors with other ingredients such as dark chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts.
“Success is coming up with the next big snack for time-impaired consumers looking for healthier and flavorful options,” one process engineer of snack foods told PMMI in its report.
Manufacturers invest more in equipment
According to PMMI, 63% of companies in the food and beverage industry are actively exploring new processing technologies and the dairy industry also registered the largest increase of capital expenditure on processing equipment and a decline of 7.8% in leased machinery.
One particular processing technology that has gained traction among dairy processors and manufacturers is HPP (high pressure processing), Izquerido said.
He explained that HPP is a way to satisfy the consumer who wants high nutritional value, a long shelf life, without any preservatives or additives in a dairy product.
“HPP, a technology that’s been around for 20 years, but wasn’t necessarily accessible because it requires a significant investment by the manufacturer,” Izquerido said.