According to Tate & Lyle’s European Dairy Consumption Trends Report, a third (34%) of 18-35-year-olds in Europe are consuming more dairy than they were three years ago. Of those who have decreased their dairy consumption over the past three years, more than two-thirds (68%) are looking to increase it.
This paints a positive picture for dairy product manufacturers, but what are some of the underlying trends that would dictate formulations going forward? Sugar reduction, high protein, sustainability and plant-based dairy alternatives are some of the key trends that will shape the narrative in the new year, says the company’s Delphine Forejt.
No added sugar
The global reduced sugar food and beverages market was valued at US$46.18bn in 2021 and is expected t grow at CAGR of 8.9% from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research. The major driving factor for the growth of the market is the increasing demand for healthy and low-sugar foods and drinks due to the rising health concerns, such as obesity and diabetes, created by regular consumption of high-fructose food & drinks. The growing popularity of healthy diets in developed countries also contributes to the market growth over the forecast period, with around 72% of consumers globally stating that they want to limit their sugar consumption according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC). Moreover, new product launches of low-sugar food products by manufacturers are further providing a significant expansion to the market growth.
“Our Dairy Consumption Trends Report found that concerns about healthfulness is a key factor in consumers’ decision making when it comes to dairy products,” Forejt explained. “By offering a range of products with reduced fat or sugar, manufacturers can help make the category more attractive to consumers. Removing sugar from recipes can cause a number of functional challenges, but adding fibers can address some of these by contributing to an increased mouthfeel.”
High protein & high fiber
Protein-based food and beverages continue to rise in popularity among consumers, who associate protein as a power nutrient. High-protein is also an influential claim when it comes to swaying consumers which product to pick from the shelves.
“Consumers are increasingly looking for products that offer additional health benefits,” Forejt explained. “More than two-fifths (45%) of Gen Z consumers in the UK believe eating high-protein food supports a healthy lifestyle [Dairy can serve the health needs of Gen Z”, Mintel Insights, Lightspeed/Mintel]; and consumers associate vitamin D with immunity, something that increased during the pandemic [Health and Wellness Across the Globe. 2021, The Harman Group, Inc.].
“Another key consumer focus area is fiber, which 32% of European consumers link to improving digestive health,” she added. “More than half (52%) of global consumers say they want more fiber in their diet.”
Transparency & sustainability
The consumer-driven clean-label trend is also here to stay, with shoppers demanding more transparency over ingredient sourcing while looking to consume products that are good for the planet. “More consumers are looking for food that only contains ingredients they perceive as natural [GlobalData's 2021 Q2 global consumer survey], which has given rise to the growing demand for food products with clear and transparent ingredient list,” Forejt explained. “Clean label does not yet have a concrete definition, but shorter ingredients lists and more ingredients perceived as natural are key elements.
“Tied into this is whether the ingredients are sourced sustainably. While much of the discourse has been from young people, our research found that a fifth of older buyers said that products with environmental accreditations would make them more likely to buy. Therefore, this should be a key consideration for manufacturers.”
Plant-based dairy alternatives will continue to surge in popularity, with an increasing number of manufacturers looking to tap into the market, which is predicted to grow at CAGR of 11% and reach a valuation of US$32bn by 2031 according to Fact.MR. “The plant-based opportunity has been growing for some time and shows no sign of slowing,” agreed Forejt. “Our European Dairy Consumption Trends Report found that 35% of young people are eating non-dairy cheese alternatives, 33% are choosing non-dairy ice cream alternatives and 46% are consuming non-dairy milk alternatives at least once a week.”
On the milk alternatives landscape, oat, almond and coconut will continue to rule, but Forejt also predicts that more varieties, such as pea-based alternatives, will be offered. “But many of these do not function in the same way as cows’ milk during the manufacturing process, which risks negatively impacting the taste, texture and mouthfeel of products,” she concluded.