Globally, Allied Market Research predicts the dairy alternative market will reach $21.7 billion in the next six years, with North America as a prime revenue driver in 2015 – exceeded only by Asia-Pacific. The market research firm predicts both regions will continue to lead the way in the coming years.
Within the larger category, almond milk is projected to be the fastest growing segment with a compound annual growth rate around 15% in the coming years, according to Allied Market Research and competing market research firm Technavio.
Allied Market Research attributes the continued growth in part to high demand in developed regions, including North America, where many consumers are reaching for the beverage as a way to help combat obesity.
Technavio echoes this, explaining that almond milk, in particular, can boost satiety, so consumers are less likely to reach for extra calories.
In addition to helping people feel full, Technavio notes that consumers like almond milk for its other functional benefits, such as its ability to help reduce cholesterol and its high levels of vitamins E and A, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
Increase in lactose intolerance
Another driver for almond milk sales is the rise in food allergies, intolerances and self-diagnosed cases of lactose intolerance, according to Technavio.
It notes in a report that in the US incidence of food allergies have increased an estimated 18% in the last ten years, and in the past two years sales of lactose-free products in the US and Europe have doubled.
On a global scale, more than 1 billion people are lactose-intolerant, with 90% of the Eastern and South-East Asian population affected. This partly explains why Asia-Pacific is the only country to outpace demand for non-dairy alternatives than North America.
Vegans push consumption
The growing interest in a vegan lifestyle and healthier diets also is pushing the growth of non-dairy alternatives, and almond milk in particular, according to Technavio.
“People perceive a vegan diet to be healthy, and they prefer to consume almond milk as a substitute for dairy milk,” it notes in a release. “Vegan diet followers and healthy diet adopters are two of the major target consumers of dairy-alternative beverages, which will fuel the growth of the global almond milk market during the forecast period.”
Premiumization attracts consumers
Finally, Technavio notes the premiumization of almond milk and non-dairy alternatives has helped attract more consumers to the segment.
Leading this change is Califia Farms, a non-dairy beverage company, that has completely changed the way that almond milk is packaged and positioned. Eschewing the rectangular cartons that dominated the category for years, Califia Farms adopted an eye-catching curved bottle that is easier to hold. It also moved the product to the refrigerator section where it can compete more directly with milk from animals and is perceived as fresher.
Califia and others also have taken strides to improve the taste, flavor and formulation of non-dairy alternatives, Allied notes.