top of page

Key Consumer Insights on Plant-Based Dairy in 2022

From VLabel-EU

Editor's note: What are consumers looking for in the plant-based dairy industry sector?

Without doubt 'the new needs market' are responding to emotional instincts first and foremost. Consumer priorities look like this:

  • Sustainability

  • Taste & Flavours

  • Real Ingredients

  • Health

Scotland's Bute Island Sheese began production in 1994 and is a globally recognised brand.

VLabel says this: ' More and more, consumers are turning to dairy alternative


In fact, 47% of global consumers eat or drink plant-based dairy products.

There are several reasons why this is happening. So let’s jump right in and check out the key factors that go into this decision:


This has become a key factor for consumers when purchasing products:

74% of global consumers are concerned about the state of the environment and, more specifically, about carbon emissions.

Ed Note: 'The emotional quotient!'

'There has been recent attention to the carbon emission of dairy farming and the impact this has on the environment. Therefore, many consumers have turned to plant-based dairy to address these concerns.'

As a matter of fact, 60% of global consumers believe plant-based diets are better for the environment.

So there is a huge opportunity for plant-based brands to take a proactive approach to eliminate their carbon footprint and even offset more carbon emissions than they produce; brands need to be seen as resourceful and efficient – and not contributing to environmental damage.

Another major concern for consumers is food waste: 68% of consumers are worried about it.

And again, plant-based brands have the upper hand: 69% of consumers deemed that drinking/eating alternatives to dairy are better for the environment.

This is further reinforced by the fact that 62% of consumers who opt not to consume dairy cite environmental concerns such as food waste.

Source: VLabel

But beware ; when asked what barriers consumers think exist when it comes to leading a more environmentally friendly diet, 53% answered that environmentally friendly products are more expensive.

And, because 67% of consumers think that price is an important factor when buying alternative dairy products, it is pretty clear that plant-based dairy brands should look into making their products more affordable or worth the premium price. A tiered portfolio range with economical options can make dairy-free products more accessible to consumers.

In short, vegan products are perceived as environmentally friendly, so plant-based dairy brands should embrace this and be as transparent as possible with sustainability claims. Also, they should aim to make dairy-free products more accessible to consumers. Brands that do this will have a positive perception by the consumer and competitive advantage over other companies.

Taste & Flavours

Consumers don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to taste.

And even though consumers have increased their attention in sustainability matters, taste is still the most important factor for many consumers when choosing a product:

  • 85% of consumers answered that taste is important when buying alternative dairy products.

  • In fact, 38% of consumers say that they don’t purchase plant-based milk products due to not liking the taste.

So plant-based brands should offer products that taste as good as or better than dairy products. And we can see they are achieving it: 66% of consumers like the taste of plant-based alternatives better than regular milk products.

Source: VLabel

And if plant-based dairy brands can add a variety of flavours that taste phenomenal, even better:

42% of consumers say they want a greater variety of flavours when looking for plant-based milk.

Consumers are seeking exotic and unusual new flavours to experience. With more people turning to alternative dairy products, there is plenty of room for brands to experiment with new flavours and products to offer consumers a unique experience as they branch out into plant-based dairy categories beyond milk.

There is an opportunity for brands to raise awareness of other alternative dairy varieties such as tiger nut, pea, and potato milk.

As we can see, there is ample space for innovation. But right now, the most appealing flavours for consumers are:

  1. Almond: 67%

  2. Soy: 65%

  3. Rice: 53%

  4. Coconut: 34%

  5. Oat: 31%

In short, plant-based brands should offer products that taste good with a variety of flavours, and offer peace of mind to the consumer by having sustainability claims.

Real Ingredients

Consumers want products that contain real ingredients that will not negatively impact their health:

  • 74% of consumers state that it’s important that their groceries are 100% natural.

  • Also, 68% of consumers stated that dairy is high in sugar which is a reason why they do not eat or drink dairy.

Consumers are looking for clean ingredients that they know and trust, and they want to avoid chemicals and ingredients that are detrimental to both the environment and their health, so they will be looking for alternative dairy products that use familiar and trustworthy ingredients.

As a matter of fact:

  • 52% of consumers agree that over the last twelve months, they have been more attentive to the ingredient listings on food and drink products that they buy.

  • And when buying, 57% of consumers pay attention to whether the product has high-quality and trusted ingredients.

Therefore, plant-based brands should provide a streamlined ingredients list and free-from claims on their products to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Quick fact: 78% of consumers worldwide generally trust products with the V-Label symbol more than products without it.


As we’ve just seen, consumers look for natural and safe ingredients. And the main reason for that is that they are worried about their health.

Consumers are taking a holistic approach to health, looking to boost their physical and cognitive well-being and seeking out ingredients that offer a health boost beyond basic nutrition:

  • 73% of consumers stated that health claims/benefits are important when buying alternative dairy products,

  • and 71% of consumers indicated that plant-based alternatives are healthier than regular milk products.

Consumers are turning to functional products and better-for-you alternatives to help improve their health and boost their immune systems.

To appeal to the health-conscious consumer, brands should offer products that can provide health benefits, such as fortified products.

As a matter of fact, fortification works amazingly with flexitarians.

Due to the growing flexitarian trend across the globe (31% of global consumers are flexitarians), more people are looking to remove or moderate animal products in their diets.

However, flexitarians may feel that by removing animal products from their diet, they are missing out on vital nutrients, as can be seen in this piece of data: 55% of flexitarians stated that they are concerned that they may miss out on certain nutrients obtained from dairy due to having to change their diet in the last two years to moderate/avoid intake of dairy'.

For more information connect directly with VLabel

Download VLabel's fact based White Papers on a variety of contemporary plant-based and alt.protein subjects.

Thank you to VLabel for access to this information of relevance not only to consumers but also emerging PB industries.

More Info HERE.


bottom of page