The US plant-based milk category grew 20% in the last quarter driven by continued growth in almond milk - sales of which were up more than 50% year-on-year, says WhiteWave Foods.
Speaking on the firm’s first quarter earnings call on Thursday, CEO Gregg Engles said: “Almond has now grown to roughly two-thirds of the entire plant-based category [30% is soy and the rest is coconut or rice]. Silk almond milk continues to be one of the main drivers of this growth as it grew by 52% in the first quarter.”
But the growth has come in part at the expense of soymilk, he added. “As the category has moved toward almond, we have been rebalancing our product mix and shifting shelf space away from soy to almond milk SKUs.
“This intentional mix shift has contributed to a large part of the declines we have recently experienced in soy.”
Soy will remain a very sizable segment
However, “soy will remain a very sizable segment”, he predicted. “Today, it still represents around 30% of the category … So we’re going to continue to look to bring news to soy. But in the end, we are putting the vast majority of our efforts against where the consumer is going.”
Meanwhile, higher prices for almond milk to reflect input cost inflation did not seem to be putting consumers off, he said.
“We increased our pricing in the first quarter. So far we’ve seen that pricing be relatively sticky in the marketplace. And we’ve had very strong volume growth continue.”
Macademia nut beverage to launch in Europe
In Europe, a new beverage containing macademia nuts, plus a new rice, coconut & chocolate blend will launch under the Provamel brand, while a new coconut beverage will be launching under the Alpro brand, he said.
WhiteWave - which sells plant-based products under the Silk brand in the US and the Alpro and Provamel brands in Europe - also makes products under the Horizon Organic, TruMoo, Land O Lakes and Earthbound Farm brands.
Net sales for the quarter ended March 31 were up 36% to $830m, while adjusted operating income rose 35% to $64m.