Why Traditional And Plant-Based Dairy Are Warring For Shelf Space

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 | 1318 Views

Dairy alternatives marketers are grappling with regulations over using industry terms such as ‘milk’ and ‘butter’, according to the white paper by market research company Packaged Facts.

The white paper, written by David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts, highlighted that a recent European Union ruling has deemed it illegal for non-dairy soy/soya brands to market their products with dairy terminology, paralleling a regulatory skirmish in the US that reflects non-dairy alternatives’ ‘rush to the perimeter’ taking place in supermarkets.

“This is a battle for shelf space and consumer dollars,” said Mr Sprinkle. Once tucked away in the shelf-stable centre store, non-dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives have jumped into the refrigerated dairy case alongside milk-based counterparts.

Since soy milk’s popularity skyrocketed in the late 1970s on the heels of the natural food channel’s counter-culture health beverage trend, plant-based milks have become entrenched in mainstream supermarkets. Now, next-generation refrigerated plant milks have attracted the attention, if not necessarily the neighbourly affection, of conventional dairy milk marketers.

Traditional dairy products have long satisfied consumer demands for both convenience and freshness. The dairy and refrigerated cases are in this sweet spot, dominating non-dairy’s shelf-stable centre store products, and even to a degree other frozen food cases.

The advent of dairy alternatives’ encroachment on the dairy case sanctum is pitting traditional dairy and refrigerated product marketers and segments against rivals formerly tucked away from increasingly health-conscious, knowledgeable consumers.

Unlike their centre-store counterparts, refrigerated dairy alternative beverages—think almond milk and novel blends—have the advantages of both refrigerated formulation and a familiar gable-top carton. The new generation of refrigerated plant milk’s mixture of qualitative and aesthetic marketing creates potent competition, unseen from products such as soy milk, tucked away in the centre store within aseptic packaging that connotes neither freshness nor familiarity.

This industry skirmish is not confined to just dairy’s beverage sector. Product segments are morphing, stealing thunder from rivals, and gesticulating wildly to attract attention. The question now is what is next?


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