Lighten up with dairy alternatives
The sky’s the limit as non-dairy products take over the dairy aisle.
Changing lifestyles and health needs have led to the expansion of the dairy category. Less than 10 years ago, the average American only bought conventional white milk. “We are seeing smaller sizes of everything from organic milk and lactose-free milk, to flavored dairy milk and nut milks filling the average American refrigerator,” says Tetra Pak’s VP Chris Gretchko.
It is no surprise, then, that the market for dairy alternatives is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.3% during 2016-2022 to $21.7 billion by 2020. The report, Dairy Alternative Market by Source, Application - Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014–2022, by Research & Markets (researchandmarkets.com) also states that soy milk accounted for the largest market share of 53.2% in 2015, because of its extensive usage in beverages. The rising levels of lactose intolerance will be the major driver in market growth.
Based in the U.K., Alpro has a full product line of dairy alternative foods and beverages with soya (soy), rice, almond, hazelnut, oat, cashew and coconut. One stand-out is its soy-based yogurt. The 100% plant-based yogurt comes in a 500g tub and smaller 125g single-serve cups that come in a four-pack.
The yogurt is packaged by Greiner Packaging’s (greiner-gpi.us) K3® cup, a premier cardboard-plastic combination packaging for cups and non-round cups. It touts a patented tear-open system, offering ease of separating its plastic and cardboard components. Reduced plastics content contributes to lower CO2 emissions, while the durable cardboard wrap offers product stability. Renewable resources are used when possible, and biopolymers such as PLA are incorporated when appropriate.
The cardboard surface provides a pleasant feel to touch, as well as printing capabilities for a distinctive appearance and as an opportunity to promote recipes, marketing messages and more. Additions such as windows in the cardboard wrap or special isolation effects can be implemented to customer specifications.
Califia Farms is “fueling a plant-based beverage revolution,” with its portfolio of 55 SKUs of premium plant-based almond milks, coffee creamers and ready-to-drink (RTD) cold-brew coffees. Founder and CEO Greg Steltenpohl says that almond milk’s taste and authenticity are appealing to more diverse demographics, including men who “traditionally value taste above good-for-you-ness.”
The RTD cold-brew coffees with almond milk are available in 48-ounce multi-serve bottles in four flavors: Café Latte, Double Espresso, Salted Caramel and Mocha. They also come in smaller 10.5-ounce single-serve bottles in Salted Caramel, Double XXEspresso, Cocoa Noir, Dirty Chai, Mocha Mexica and Triple Shot flavors. The coffees are dairy- and soy-free.
With its distinctive hourglass shape, Califia Farms’ recyclable bottles stand out from the standard cartons in refrigerated dairy cases. “As we developed our delicious beverages, we also worked to create magic in our packaging. We spent months of experimentation to invent a bottle that really stands out on the shelf,” Steltenpohl says.
The tactile relationship with the Califia bottle – making it feel good in consumers’ hands – was critical to the design process as well. Califia created a soft, feel-good plastic with a grippable neck and ergonomics that lend itself to an easy twist-off cap. The company uses a resin that goes into one recycling stream, ensuring the bottle is 100% recyclable.
Amcor Rigid Plastics (amcor.com) recently launched a collection of clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) stock bottles and preforms for dairy, aseptic and high-pressure processed (HPP) liquid beverages. These eye-catching containers offer versatility and flexibility for brand owners and packaging manufacturers.
Amcor’s new collection represents one of the industry’s largest lines of dairy-specific products providing design flexibility based on a wide range of package shapes and sizes.
These premium bottles are aesthetically pleasing, easy to handle and meet the needs of on-the-go consumers. According to Amcor, they are spill-proof and offer higher quality and better sealing than competitive containers.
The PET beverage collection is available in round, hourglass and square shapes and comes in four sizes (12-, 16-, 32- and 64-ounce). The two filling types for dairy include cold-fill and aseptic. A broad range of preforms enables stock and custom bottle designs ranging from 8- to 16-ounce for single-serve and 28- to 68-ounce for multiple-serve applications. Labeling alternatives include wrap, shrink or pressure-sensitive labels (barring hourglass design).
Daiya Foods, Canada, recently unveiled a new look for its dairy-free Swiss and Provolone cheese style slices with improved flavor and new packaging for its 7.8-ounce tray.
“We are always listening to our customers in order to keep Daiya’s better-for-you products at the top of their shopping lists, so we didn’t stop until we landed on this better-than-ever recipe for our slices,” says Michael Lynch, vice president of marketing. Both varieties come in sleek, new packaging that features clear trays and updated graphics, which highlight the creamy texture and delicious flavor inside.
Daiya Foods also carries these dairy-free offerings: 8-ounce cheese shreds and 7.1-ounce blocks, Greek yogurt in petite 5.2-ounce cups, bottled dressings, Cheezecake, Cheezy Mac, and even pizza. The new and improved Farmhouse Block cheeses – in Smoked Gouda, Jalapeno Havarti, Medium Cheddar and Monterey Jack – claim “same weight with 65% less packaging.” The plastic packaging prevents oxygen from entering into the package, maintaining product freshness without adding preservatives, and incorporates an easy-open lid. Daiya’s cheese shreds are packed in resealable stand up pouches.
Though the plastic packaging is not currently all recyclable, the company has small packaging runs and looks at all available options to ensure it makes the best choices for the environment and its customers. The boxes used for the dressing bottles, pizza, Cheezy Mac and Cheezecake are, however, recyclable.
Tetra Pak’s Gretchko says that dairy alternatives are great at offering visual cues. “Pick up any dairy alternative brand in the grocery store and you’ll often see visuals of ingredients and flavors.” He adds that product benefits will also be listed – such as ‘all-natural’ and ‘soy-free’ and the certified organic icon – which resonate with consumers.
Clearly, demand for dairy-free foods and beverages is there – and still growing. Consumers are seeking dairy alternatives as a lifestyle choice and for health needs. While choices abound, there is always room for more. With many dairy companies also bottling teas, juices, lemonades and coffee-based drinks, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s new and trending in these non-dairy categories.