---by Lance Dobson, Director, Retail, Nielsen
Whether it is driven by lactose intolerance, allergies, veganism, the paleo diet, or just general health and wellbeing, it appears New Zealanders are exploring emerging alternatives to traditional white milk. No longer confined to the shelves of health food outlets and specialty stores, ‘new age’ options such as almond, rice and oat milk are now commonplace in supermarkets across New Zealand.
In fact, Nielsen retail scanning data shows we are particularly nuts about almond milk: dollar and volume sales have more than doubled over the past two years to January 2017, making it a $14.4 million market, nationally.
Fresh white dairy milk, on the other hand, recorded modest volume growth (3.2 percent) and dollar sales remained completely flat in the last 12 months. Classic dairy substitute, soy milk, followed a similar trend with a 6.6 percent rise in volume in the last year.
And while almond milk only accounts for a small fraction of total milk (3 percent), it is the third largest segment nationally and accounts for more sales than the remaining alternative milk options combined.
So why have sales for almond milk gone nuts?
Across the Pacific, it appears consumers are adopting a back-to-basics mindset where a focus on simple ingredients and fewer artificial or processed foods is a priority. Findings from Nielsen’s Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey reveal that more than half (55 percent) of New Zealanders say they “actively make dietary choices to help prevent certain health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension”. While 61 percent say they actively avoid animal foods that contain antibiotics or hormones.
Growing concerns around health will continue to play a major role in consumers’ milk purchasing decisions in the future, presenting an opportunity for brands and retailers to reach out and reconnect with consumers who may have lost their milky way.