Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The changing definition of dairy

With increasing influences on the category – environmental and lifestyle factors to name a few ­– it appears that the traditional definition of the dairy case is changing.

While the influence of health is prominent in terms of consumer spend, increasing product lines and shelf exposure in the dairy-free range, it seems dairy-free alternatives are here to stay.

Health callouts

Mike Herriott, Category and Marketing at Primo Foods explains that according to “shopper behaviour trends”, “consumers are visiting the dairy case more frequently, spending more dollars per trip, but buying less”.

“Consumers are searching for convenience and on the go solutions, as well as a premium product – smaller, more convenient and premium products are leading the way for growth.”

Premium and quality ingredients are also crucial product development drivers at Ashgrove Cheese, who have also started calling out protein content on their labelling to meet the protein trends of the health and wellness category.

“Protein per serve … is something that we’ve started calling out – putting callouts onto the front of our packaging,” said Anne Bennett, Marketing and Communications Manager at Ashgrove Cheese. She adds that sugar and calcium round out the top three nutrition callouts at Ashgrove Cheese.

Nicole Ohm, Group Marketing Manager at Brownes Dairy, agrees that one of the biggest trends influencing product development is “by far health”. “There’s the focus towards more natural products … products that have functional benefits like probiotics … general health … and also people are choosing to use specific products for their health – for instance, a trend towards lactose and gluten-free.”

The dairy-free alternative

Another health trend driving change within the dairy case is ‘the dairy-free alternative’.

Virginia Pullman, Marketing Manager Australia at Califia Farms, reflected on the changing dairy case: “The dairy case certainly looks different today than it was years ago, with new dairy-free milk, cheese and yoghurt continuing to enter the market to meet demand from customers who are shifting away from dairy.”

“People’s attitudes are changing as animal-based products are becoming less sustainable and are having a larger environmental impact.

“Climate change and environmental impact is a huge concern for Califia Farms, which is one of the reasons why we produce plant milk in the first place.”

Adding to the discussion, Nuttelex Foods CEO, John Rishworth said: “The term ‘dairy’ now constitutes a wide array of dairy alternatives, primarily in the form of plant-based substitutes and blended options.”

“Within the realm of spreads, we have witnessed a segmentation driven by several different factors, including consumer resistance to price … awareness for good for you/good for the environment and the growing concern for animal welfare.”

Mr Rishworth adds that the “trend toward plant-based alternatives is gaining momentum with these products gaining a lot more exposure”.

Plant-based is “where the future is heading”, according to Mr Rishworth.

“[This is] demonstrated by the sheer number of new offerings in the plant-based category by major players globally, from Europe to the USA,” he said.

To read the full article as it appeared in Retail World magazine, visit: Beyond the milk moustache.

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