Almond milk was the fastest growing non-dairy milk alternative in 2011 in sales and popularity, as consumer awareness of plant-based milk health benefits has grown, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.
In its latest report, Dairy Alternative Beverages in the US, market research organization said that total retail sales of soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and other plant milks reached $1.33bn in 2011. Although soy milk remained the most popular non-dairy milk alternative, almond milk was close behind. Last year, 11% of adults were consumers of soy milk, according to the organization, while 9% consumed almond milk. Rice milk came third in popularity.
Almond milk sales increased 79% last year.
Meanwhile soy milk sales are declining, with the total soy food and beverage market shrinking about 15% from 2008 to 2010, according to the report.
“In the beverage sector, soy-free milk alternatives have altered the category and affected soymilk sales,” it said. “In recent years, almond milk varieties have seen the greatest increase in sales.”
In particular, Silk Pure Almond saw an increase in sales of over 500% in 2010, and 69% in 2011, while Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze sales increased 240% in 2010, and 59% in 2011.
Cow’s milk sales have also fallen steadily in recent years. According to US Department of Agriculture figures, average per capita consumption of cow’s milk fell from 24.3 gallons per person in 1994 to 20.8 gallons per person in 2008.
“Many consumers are increasingly turning either to non-caloric beverages or to non-traditional beverages with novel nutritional characteristics or benefits – the latter a positive trend for the dairy alternative beverages market,” the report said.
“…Prime consumers of dairy alternative beverages also include vegans, vegetarians and people concerned about the antibiotics or growth hormones often found in cow's milk.”
For almond milk, Packaged Facts highlighted its unsaturated fat, high protein and omega fatty acid content, high levels of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin E as some reasons for its increasing popularity, alongside lactose intolerance.
“Generally, people enjoy the flavor of almond milk,” it added.
In terms of market share, the market researcher found that soy milk accounted for 68.7% of the dairy alternative beverage market in 2011, almond milk 21.2%, rice milk 7.2% and coconut milk 2.6%.