Consumers in the UAE and the wider Middle East market are becoming more aware of the impact of food on their health. This increased awareness was boosted by the various governments’ effort to address obesity in their countries with several campaigns on health awareness. These campaigns translated into different lifestyle changes impacting several industries, including dairy alternatives. According to reports, the alternative dairy market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5% to reach GBP 1.5 billion by 2026.
Many consumers have shifted toward plant milk which is considered a healthier alternative to dairy. This has driven the demand for plant milk such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc. In the UAE, plant milk is estimated to have grown by up to 50% in year 2020 alone. Increasing health issues such as lactose intolerance and hormonal imbalances, conditions made worse with dairy products, have further increased the demand for alternative products. Other consumers who do not have any allergies have also opted for plant milk with claims that they feel less bloated when they consume plant milk. In the foodservice space, cafes and restaurants now offer plant milk to substitute dairy milk to consumers.
Several local companies have also jumped on this trend. Leading in this space are brands such as Alpro, Arla, Soyfresh and Koita, providing a range of options to consumers.
More innovation is expected in this space in the next few years, with new sustainable crops being used to produce nutritious alternatives to milk. Currently, there are various product innovations, including almond with cocoa; coconut and almond milk; fortified plant milk with calcium; almond and vanilla, etc.
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