“How do you know if someone’s vegan? Don’t worry, they will tell you,” goes the popular meme. They will also probably talk about all about dairy-free substitutes like almond, rice and soy milk.
Rapidly mounting health concerns about certain foods has paved the way for healthier options. While allergies and medical conditions play a big role in the discussion around dietary choices like dairy- and gluten-free, the trend now is to embrace certain nutrition lifestyles as a health choice, regardless of allergies.
Please take the dairy out of my milk
To trace the popularity of non-dairy milk products, we first looked at what’s driving consumers to find alternatives. Although the dairy-free conversation is not heavy in post volume, when we assessed sentiments specific to different diet trends like dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarianism and veganism, we found that negative sentiment for dairy was the highest, almost double compared to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Why does dairy discussion skew so negative? It’s the allergens. And this concern mostly stems from worried parents. The dairy-free conversation, mentions of allergies with babies, children, nursing or formula make up 16% of discussion.
Parents prefer to go dairy-free themselves if they are nursing or restrict dairy consumption for their kids when they notice extreme irritability and skin conditions.
Dairy-free by choice, not chance
As alluded to before, for many, going dairy-free or gluten-free has little to do with allergies and more to do with dietary preference.
When we analyzed consumer conversations around intolerances and the adoption of a dairy-free diet, we found that there is an increase in the number of consumers who express the intent to go dairy-free on social with words like ‘choosing’, ‘trying’, ‘considering’, or ‘wanting.’
I don’t drink dairy because I’m not a baby cow
— Grace (@graciconix) April 25, 2017
Milk those almonds
Choosing to give up dairy is not a new fad. Americans have been weaning off milk, slowly, for generations. Data from USDA suggests that on average, Americans drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970.
Naturally, this has given rise to the search for alternatives. Among non-dairy products, almond milk is the most popular option, cutting into the soy milk conversation over the past six years.
Almond milk has risen from 30% share of voice in 2010 to 50% in the past year. Coconut milk, however, appears to be making a push while cashew milk has found its way into discussion in just the past three years.
Get social insights delivered to your inbox.
In fact, a Nielsen study showed that almond milk is the country’s favorite milk substitute, clocking 250% in sales growth since 2010 and globally, the almond milk market is set to grow 15% CAGR between 2016 and 2020.
Brand my milk
Attesting almond milk’s popularity, among the top-mentioned dairy brands, the most popular one on social is Blue Diamond Almond Breeze which received more mentions than all the other brands like Love My Silk, SO Delicious, Califia Farms and Omilk put together.
Dietary fads will come and go, but when they do come, it might be worthwhile for brands to milk the trend by tuning into consumer conversations on social media. Because the dietary choices consumers make determines how they shop at supermarkets and what they reach for. This is a part of a larger series on consumer packaged goods. Download our larger report on consumer opinions of beverages in the consumer packaged goods industry below.