Trends in Milk and Milk Alternatives
After a slump in milk sales, the milk market is steadily rebounding thanks to increased consumer interest in health and nutrition and demand for tasty, nutritional beverages. As a result, the dairy industry is putting new spins on the classic drink to revive interest and stay on top of the current trends.
Plain skim and low-fat milk remain the industry leaders, but other types of milk beverages are quickly gaining ground. With milk’s nutritional benefits highlighted as they have been lately (and carbonated soft drinks continuing to come under fire), many types of milk beverages are gaining popularity in the market, including flavored and alternative offerings.
In fact, many individuals now buy different varieties of milk for different usages or different family members. A look inside any refrigerator is likely to reveal a mix of milk products, such as skim milk for daily drinking, whole milk for cooking, cream for coffee, and maybe even almond or coconut milk for pouring on cereal or for vegan or lactose-intolerant family members (or those who just like the taste of these milk alternatives).
These alternative milk beverages, once known only to vegans or the most health-conscious among us, are now right at home on grocery store shelves and in refrigerators throughout the country. Indeed, milk alternatives are the fastest-growing category of milk products on the market. Almond milk is perhaps the most popular, with several varieties readily available such as sweetened, unsweetened, and flavored (vanilla and chocolate are widely available, and others are making their way onto the scene). There are even holiday-themed almond “nogs” in great flavors such as pumpkin spice. Coconut milk is another popular milk alternative that comes in delicious and refreshing flavors.
Hemp milk is lesser-known but growing in popularity, particularly with the health-conscious sector of the population. Hemp milk is legal and very healthy, containing no THC (found in marijuana) and lots of essential nutrients. Hemp milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk and can definitely hold its own next to almond and coconut milk when it comes to texture and taste. Hemp milk can also be flavored in any number of ways.
Vanilla and chocolate are sure to remain popular milk flavor choices for some time, but other flavors are also gaining a foothold, such as strawberry, orange cream, cookies and cream, and even exotic flavors such as horchata. And this is just the beginning – flavorists looking to create new and unique twists on milk and milk alternatives have a lot of room to experiment in this rapidly growing market.