Sheryl Gajete, beverages analyst at GlobalData, said, “Nestlé’s new product launches – a plant-based version of its Milo branded milk drink, as well as two new dairy-free Nescafé RTDs – join a number of manufacturers who are attempting to capture growing interest in plant-based beverages in the region. It should be noted that soy milk prevails as the most popular dairy alternative in Asia, above GNRS, with 8.3bn liters consumed in 2020, the most volumes accounted for by China and Thailand, where the products are considered traditional drinks.”
Recent years have also witnessed the growth and proliferation of beverages that feature nuts and grains. Alongside this trend is the emergence of fusion beverages that combine soy milk with rice, grain, nuts and seeds. These new products take advantage of the traditional appeal of soy milk, while cashing in on the rising appetite for non-soy dairy alternatives.
Gajete said, “Holding a formidable position in dairy beverages, Nestlé’s jump into the plant-based beverage trend signifies its commitment to harnessing the expected growth in non-dairy alternatives - and not just in Malaysia. Neighboring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore present vast opportunities given that Nestlé has established a strong presence in these markets over the years.”
According to GlobalData’s consumer survey insights on plant-based preferences, in Asia, a higher proportion of consumers have expressed they are more likely to purchase plant-based alternatives compared with other regions, potentially driven by the traditional use of plant-based alternatives derived from soy in major Asian economies. In the same survey, 47% of respondents in Asia-Pacific stated that they are somewhat or extremely likely to choose plant-based alternatives for milk, higher than the global average of 36%.
Gajete said, “Improvements to dairy consumption will remain an important goal for Asian markets, supported by government initiatives and manufacturer strategies, especially for countries where per capita consumption of milk remains low. At the same time, however, a shift to vegetarian, vegan, low carb, and low-fat diets and other health considerations will support the dynamism in dairy alternatives.”