The world’s largest yogurt company is investing in a plant-based future, as a result of increased demand from vegans and flexitarians.
Faced with stagnating demand for traditional dairy items, European food giant Danone are now looking into diversifying their Activia and Actimel brands through the introduction of new non-dairy yogurts.
Just ten years ago, this move would have been unthinkable. However, this push into the lucrative dairy-alternative market by the company is indicative of broader shifts in thinking at the top of the industry, with market insiders beginning to warn of a tailing off in market share for dairy producers. The reason? Changes in attitudes and perceptions leading to increasing numbers of people adopting vegan lifestyles.
It has been said that consumers vote with their money every time they make a food purchase and the numbers tell an interesting story. In the UK alone, there has been a big increase in people choosing to live meat- and dairy-free in the past two years, with many others committing to reduce their consumption..
“The intent is that any offering in which consumers would like to have a choice between dairy and plant-based alternatives, we should make it available because the consumer is looking for it,” a Danone spokesman said.
Market analysts expect the dairy alternative market to grow to almost $20bn by 2023, which is a staggering rate considering that the size of the market as recently as 2016 was less than half of that at $8.51bn. In other words, large dairy producers may feel they now have no choice but to sit up and take notice – from a strategic point of view ignoring these trends could be perilous for their bottom lines.
Danone, famed for its Activia and Oikos brands has seen tremendous growth in the past few years from sales of its Alpro products – according to recent data, Alpro, whose products are all plant-based is a regular purchase by a fifth of the UK’s households. Furthermore, Danone’s takeover of WhiteWave is another sign that it has taken note of these recent change; Whitewave has been a dominating presence in the dairy alternative market market since the 1970s and is responsible for of some of the US’s largest vegan milk brands such as Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free.