Consumers are more in tune than ever before to the health benefits of consuming a plant-based diet. With sustainable and ethical consumerism increasingly top of mind, more omnivores seek to incorporate less meat and dairy into their diets, leading to the surge of eaters going flexitarian.
In response, many dairy alternative brands are expanding their product lines and innovating in terms of both flavor and format to capture plant-based converts. As Miyoko Schinner, founder of dairy-free cheese producer Miyoko’s Creamery puts it, “We need to start appealing more to flexitarians, creating products that give them the taste satisfaction of the real dairy cheeses they are used to, in a plant-based product.” The company’s new line of oat- and legume-based cheeses not only mimics the taste of real Cheddar or pepper jack cheese, but also the ways these cheeses are typically consumed and how they melt.
Innovations in the dairy alternative section also include greater attention to the macro trend of “allergens and intolerances”—so pervasive today. Nut-based products (particularly cashew) still abound and offer rich flavor profiles and plenty of versatility, but allergy-friendlier ingredients like coconut milk, legumes, hemp, brown rice and oats continue to rise, with the latter in particular staking a big claim in the freezer aisle.
Consumers are also benefitting from a “cleaned-up” dairy alternative category, with more products eschewing additives and instead focusing on whole-food ingredients, natural sweeteners like dates and functional add-ins like collagen, adaptogens and superfood ingredients, as well as plant-based proteins. Organic certification can be key for these products as brands strive for transparency, and consumers seek peace of mind.
The products featured in this gallery capture some of the trends that have been happening in the aisle in terms of plant-based cheeses, frozen desserts, beverages and yogurts.
This piece originally appeared on Food & Beverage Insider, a New Hope Network sister website. To read more expert analysis about this topic, check out "Formulating for Success in the Dairy Alternative Aisle" digital magazine.