According to London-based Euromonitor International, the dairy alternatives sector is poised for volume and value growth of 4.9% and 6.2%, respectively, through 2023 (compound annual growth rate). And you don’t need a market research report to tell you that mainstream dairy cases are giving more real estate to non-dairy substitutes.
Yet despite having so much going for them, plant-based products can’t afford to coast — because if there’s one thing that could hold them back, it’s flavor: Plant-based dairy alternatives can taste strange, especially relative to the clean, mild dairy profiles they aim to replicate.
But with oat “milk” and cashew “cheese” giving the real things a run for their money, somebody must be doing something right. So we sat down with flavor experts to find out what.
All things considered, Keera Perumbala, marketing associate for Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sensient Flavors, sees two camps gravitating toward the plant-based space.
“One is the hardcore vegan who pursues veganism for strict health reasons, religious beliefs or some other nonnegotiable,” she said. “The others are the vegan explorers — consumers who’re perfectly OK eating dairy but choose to test the plant-based waters out of culinary curiosity or to complement their holistic health pursuits. And it’s this consumer who’s definitely not willing to compromise on taste.”
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