Relying on the once-ubiquitous, remarkably versatile soybean is no longer the only option for natural-minded manufacturers looking to produce dairy-like products. To allay concerns about genetically modified organisms and phytoestrogens in soy, companies are turning to cashews, almonds and even sunflower seeds to create products that surpass their soybean-based counterparts in both flavor and function.
In addition to lactose-intolerant shoppers, today’s increasing number of epicurean vegan consumers are turning to innovative items such as Daiya Foods Havarti Style Jalapeño Garlic Wedge and Earth Balance Coconut Spread. Their penchant for high-end flavors is paying off for manufacturers and retailers. Sales of non-soy, nondairy alternatives increased 26.1 percent to $527 million in 2011, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Expect continued innovation and growth as more entrepreneurs see opportunities to enter the nondairy game with gourmet options ranging from Parmesan-esque faux cheese to chocolate sauce made with coconut milk.Start slideshow