little boy with glass of milk

Plant-Based Beverages Help Consumers Drink Healthy

Plant-based milks are more popular than ever, with manufacturers offering a steady stream of innovative, tasty, and healthy products to meet this demand. Here’s a look at what’s going on in the plant-based milk category and how these products are appealing to consumers.

The Rise of Plant-Based Milks

The plant-based milk category has seen a rapid evolution. From shelf-stable soy and rice milk cartons in natural food stores to almond and coconut milks in traditional milk cartons in mainstream dairy aisles, there’s no doubt that plant-based milk has come a long way. 

Ingredients like pea, hemp, cashew, and oat expanded the possibilities further, illustrating that any legume, seed, nut, or grain is fair game for making a plant-based milk. With textures ranging from light and refreshing to thick and creamy, along with a variety of flavors and health benefits, plant-based milks seem to have something for everyone. 

Recent category developments include an uptick in protein-fortified plant-based milks (e.g., almond milk with pea protein), new plant-based blends, and the adoption of oat milk by baristas. In addition, online ordering of plant-based milks has surged in response to COVID-19. Oat milk, in particular, made the news as consumers rushed to stock up, presumably for use as a coffee creamer as cafes were forced to shut down.

bottles of milk and nuts on table

Why Consumers are Reaching for Plant-Based Milks

Today, the majority of U.S. plant-based milk consumers also consume dairy milk. Rather than merely reaching for plant-based milk as a substitute for dairy milk, then, it seems that consumers sometimes choose plant-based milk as an enjoyable product that appeals on its own merits. Taste, variety, and health are among the most important reasons for purchasing plant-based milk.

Health Benefits

Depending on the product, plant-based milks can be a good source of protein or low in calories. They are often fortified with vitamins A and D, B-complex vitamins, and calcium, with some also providing DHA omega-3s or probiotics. For consumers with milk allergies or lactose intolerance, plant-based milks offer a way to get some of the healthy nutrients found in dairy milk.

Packaging and Claims

Today’s packaging options for plant-based milks include refrigerated gable-top cartons, in addition to plastic and glass bottles. Consumers who prefer shelf-stable plant-based milks can choose from aseptic cartons and on-the-go, single-serve bottles. 
For front-of-package claims, vegan, dairy-free, and lactose-free might be the most common though other allergy-free claims like soy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free are used as well. Nutrient claims include excellent source of calcium, low in saturated fat, and protein and calorie call-outs. Non-GMO and organic are tried-and-true claims for this category, while no sugar added and no gums added are up-and-coming.

Sustainability

The sustainability story of plant-based milks is often a key purchase driver for plant-based and flexitarian consumers. However, the wide variety of plant-based milks means some are more planet-friendly than others. For example, the low land and water usage of oats help make oat milk a sustainability superstar among plant-based milks.

three bowls of seeds on table

Plant-Based Ingredients for Today’s Consumers

While plant-based milks are the most popular of today's plant-based beverages, interest in other beverages such as drinkable plant-based yogurts and RTD coffees with plant-based creamers is growing. Plant-based ingredients can boost the health and sustainability profiles of a wide variety of products. 

We offer solutions to create delicious, nutritious, plant-based products with our functionally optimized plant-based proteins, custom vitamin and mineral premixes, flavor maskers, and more.

Our plant-based solutions portfolio includes high-quality proteins to functional and nutritious flax, chia, quinoa and oat ingredients, providing high-quality solutions that give your products outstanding nutrition, functionality, and flavor.

We work with your team to provide safe plant-based ingredients and ingredient systems that are easier to incorporate into a range of applications so that you can give your consumers nutritionally packed plant-based products they are sure to enjoy. All of our ingredients are non-GMO, gluten-free, and kosher.

Contact us to find out how we can help make your next plant-based beverage something your consumers are sure to love.

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