Sales of non-dairy drinks in Europe are to increase by 22 per cent to €228 million this year, according to new research by the UK's Organic Monitor.
A new report by the company claims that European consumers are showing very high demand for non-dairy products due to growing intolerance to lactose, health and nutrition benefits of dairy substitutes, and lifestyle changes. Marketing efforts of industry participants and new product development are to be key drivers of market growth in the coming years.
The highest growth in the non-dairy drinks market since the late 1990s has been in Italy and the UK. The British market is the largest in Europe, valued at €71 million, whereas the Italian market remains one of the smallest in spite of non-dairy drink volumes expanding over ten-fold since 2000.
Organic non-dairy drinks have roughly two-thirds market share of total non-dairy drink volumes. This sector has benefited from high consumer interest in organic foods with volumes showing a 184 per cent increase since 1998. Non-dairy drink revenues are forecast to show compound annual growth rate of 13.2 per cent to top €400 million in 2007. Volumes are projected to approach 250 million litres at that time.
Soya drinks dominate the European non-dairy drinks market, accounting for 86 per cent of total volumes. Its popularity as a milk substitute and the well publicised health benefits of soya are factors which will see consumer appeal for soya drinks continue to grow. Continuing scientific research into soya-based products and new product development are expected to fuel market growth over the forecast period.
Rice drinks is the second largest segment, finds the report, however consumer interest remains limited. Low awareness of the associated health benefits of rice drinks and limited consumer appeal hinder market growth. The other major products - oat drinks and nut drinks also suffer from low consumer awareness and are rarely found in mainstream retailers.
Organic Monitor found that the supermarkets have overtaken the specialist retailers as the most important marketing channels for non-dairy drinks. Sales have traditionally been from health food shops however there has been a large rise in the number of European supermarkets marketing non-dairy products in recent years.
The non-dairy drinks industry remains highly concentrated in spite of a number of new companies entering. However new entrants are eroding the market shares of the leading companies, especially in the Italian and German markets. Leaders, such as Alpro, which has added a number of novel products to its non-dairy drinks portfolio this year, are using new product development to combat the threat of new entrants.