A lot is happening in the food industry worldwide, and the ‘Dairy vs. Dairy-free’ space certainly makes no exception. On one side, the market has been welcoming a proliferation of dairy-free alternatives; on the other, dairy companies of all sizes are tapping into a growing requirement for premiumisation. As an increasing number of consumers seem keen to become flexitarians or ‘flexible vegetarians’, the two submarkets are competing and, at the same time, complementing each other. While pointing at the ongoing, science-based rebirth of dairy, research and consulting company New Nutrition Business has recently listed Dairy-Free as one of ten key trends to watch this year. Over the years, the plant-based, dairy-free movement has been able to successfully use the message of better digestive health as a way of positioning itself against dairy. While soy milk has been the first option available, it’s almond milk that truly changed the market and paved the way for more lactose-free alternatives—like coconut.
Founded in the UK in 2014, the Coconut Collaborative has taken the non-dairy challenge to the next level, with a range of dairy-free yoghurts and frozen desserts that are premium-priced and sustainably made with coconut milk. Its secret ingredient was a substantial investment in sampling (either outdoor and in-store) and packaging design, which helped present the products as tasty, indulgent and healthy.
This is where the importance of communication comes into play, and that’s a lesson the dairy industry should no longer ignore. If they want to defend and strengthen their market share, the NNB’s report concluded, dairy companies must be able to communicate their benefits as convincingly, coherently and passionately as their plant-based competitors.