Storytelling and sustainability claims move dairy category forward

Dairy is one of the most interesting and innovative food categories today, according to Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. During a webinar presented yesterday, Williams addressed the market researcher’s Top Ten Trends for 2020 and how they fuse together within the dairy category. Indeed, the dairy and dairy alternatives markets have already enjoyed much success, but these markets are also developing positively and tapping into some of the most poignant trends. Williams pinpoints storytelling, sustainability and hybrid claims as key drivers in the dairy sector.

Stories captivate appeal
Brands are becoming more comfortable telling their stories, explains Williams, with 56 percent of global consumers saying that stories around a brand influence their purchase decision. “It’s all about being honest and transparent with consumers on how a product is made,” she states.

Consumers are increasingly captivated by the stories behind the products. For example, Danone launched a 100 percent Mexican-made yogurt product, and according to Williams, “it has a really interesting story to tell. The packaging reflects Mexican culture and therefore, it has a great local appeal,” she notes. 

Consumers are always eager to know more and they want to learn where the ingredients come from – and brands see lots of opportunities to talk about this, Williams adds. “Consumers are interested in how a product is processed and why, but this also makes it so much more accessible for example – not only how it’s made but the place in which it is made, and I think that is a powerful message.”

Source: Innova Market Insights

Dairy goes “green”
Innova’s number two trend for 2020 is “The Plant-Based Revolution.” The market researcher asked consumers “Which claim do you prefer when buying alternatives to meat and/or dairy?” “Plant-based came out as the clear winner,” says Williams, stating that “consumers think it sounds healthier and better for them, and there are also hints of sustainable environment values there as well,” she adds. 

Notably, there has been a 52 percent rise in dairy launches with a plant-based claim over the past five years, affirms Williams. 

“Plant-based is definitely an important trend right now, but it’s still in its infancy with a small penetration. However, it’s growing faster than vegetarian or vegan claims today.”

Moreover, clean label is one of those topics around plant-based that industry is going to hear more about. “We can see that two thirds of global consumers still say they want to avoid products with ingredients that are hard to understand and now we are starting to see a lot more communication about that,” she stresses. 

Looking at the common plant bases, Williams mentions that soy and almond had a moment, and now we are seeing rapid growth in oat milk launches. “There has been a 40 percent increase in global oat milk based dairy alternative launches [CAGR 2015-2019], and we expect this to continue,” she comments. 

Over the past five years, there have been some really innovative launches in this space, for example, Nestlé, Quaker and Califia have launched their own oat-based products. Growth in this space is increasing all the time, but Williams says the market researcher is looking more specifically at what is coming next. “Cacao fruit pulp could be one to watch, we will start to see the emergence of some of these new bases following in the footsteps of some of the ones that are already well established,” she elaborates. 

Innova Market Insights has reported a 52% rise in dairy launches with a plant-based claim over the past five years.

Prioritizing eco-efficiency
Innova’s number three trend is “The Sustain Domain,” reflecting that consumer expectations around sustainability are higher than ever, pushing companies to prioritize eco-efficiency. In 2018 when the market researcher asked whether consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability, 65 percent of consumers responded yes. In 2019 that number went up to 87 percent, however, it’s still not the number one purchase driver, according to Williams. Health, she says, is still the number one driver, while sustainability is fourth on the list. 

“A significant number of consumers are very concerned about waste and packaging in particular,” Williams continues. “Sustainability is moving more mainstream and further up in terms of a purchase. It could, however, very easily be the number one reason why consumers don’t buy something.”

Innova Market Insights number seven trend, “Hello Hybrids,” highlights that adventurous consumers are highly receptive to hybrid products. 

Williams says there is ample opportunity for blending specific ingredients and category fusions. “An ice cream flavored fermented milk launched in China in November 2019 is a good example of this. Then in Japan, a cheese snack in a candy format debuted in July 2019, applying a different format to traditional products could be another way to go,” she explains. 

A boom in hero ingredients 
Trend number eight is “A Star is Born,” which references hero ingredients. According to Williams, probiotics in dairy are definitely high in consumer interest and prebiotics are also starting to enter the mainstream. “Fifty-one percent of global consumers say that they know probiotics and 40 percent of global consumers say that they know prebiotics,” she adds. 

Source: Innova Market Insights

Williams also points to a renewed interest in fiber, which will “most likely continue to move up in terms of familiarity with consumers.”

Meanwhile, botanicals also have a broader consumer appeal, she adds, while noting trend number nine “Eat Pretty,” underscoring a crossover between beauty and health. 

“We were looking at F&B products that promote physical appearance – this links back to hero ingredients,” she comments. “Protein is worth mentioning and collagen is also an ingredient that has seen a lot of growth in innovation. Many of these beauty products come from Asia, as this trend is much more influential there, but it is moving our way rapidly,” Williams notes. 

“This trend also impacts packaging and personal care products. We often see ingredients such as honey, goat milk and green tea for example, in these types of products, she concludes.

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