Appetite for plant-based dairy is growing among mainstream consumers, reports Cargill

Seeking to pinpoint consumer consumption behavior and attitudes around plant-based dairy, Cargill conducted two surveys over one year apart with baseline research completed in February 2021 and a follow-up survey completed in July 2022.

Results from the survey showed that fewer consumers reported following a vegan or vegetarian diet (9% in 2022 vs. 14% in 2021) and an even larger dip was seen in the number of consumers actively avoiding animal-based dairy products (<30% in 2022 vs. 40% in 2021).

At the same time, consumption of plant-based dairy products increased during the 17-month period. 

According to its survey data, six in ten consumers reported a jump in plant-based dairy consumption when asked in July 2022 with plant-based milk as the main driver of purchases. 

“Clearly, there’s a growing swath of plant-based dairy consumers who are open to both categories. Look in their refrigerator, and they may have conventional milk and a plant-based alternative sitting side-by-side,”  ​said Mark Fahlin, business development manager for Cargill.

“It’s further evidence of just how mainstream the plant-based dairy movement has become.”

Consumers also showed a heightened interest in other products within the broader plant-based dairy category. Half of shoppers said plant-based ice cream was a likely future purchase, while a third indicated plant-based cheese might soon be on their shopping list, according to the survey.

“More so than other plant-based sub-categories, we’ve seen purchases of one plant-based dairy product open the door for shoppers to trial another segment. Plant-based milk is a common starting point, and often serves as a gateway to plant-based ice creams, creamers and more,”​ added Fahlin.

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