The market for dairy alternatives has grown by around 8 percent annually over the last ten years. To meet the changing preferences of consumers, a major US dairy brand has now launched a vegan product line and introduced vegan ice cream made from pea protein.
McConnell’s, a Californian dairy company founded 70 years ago, has developed a range of milk-free ice creams based on pea proteins. The milk-free version contains less fat, sugar and cholesterol than its traditional counterpart. Vegan ice cream based on almond milk has also been released by retailers such as Whole Foods. When asked about the use of pea protein compared to more common alternatives such as almond and coconut milk, Michael Palmer, CEO of McConnell, said: “In a category that is so little relative to innovation, we don’t believe innovating is following someone else who innovated just to get market share”.
Reaction to sales forecasts
The market launch is in response to declining milk sales. A report by the market research company Mintel last March predicted that sales of dairy products will continue to decline over the next two years. Last year, the US dairy Elmhurst switched completely to plant-based dairy products. According to Mintel, part of the decline is due to a growing awareness of how unhealthy cow’s milk can be for humans.
Whilst sales of animal milk are to a degree stagnating at present, sales of plant-based milk are continuing to rise. The market volume of the latter is estimated to exceed 34 billion US dollars by 2024. This trend is also evident in Germany; according to Mintel, more than 60% of Germans were already interested in ice cream alternatives based on almond, coconut, soy milk etc. by 2015.
Mc Connell’s, which is sold at Gelson’s and Bristol Farms and will be launched in other speciality stores in the coming months, is available in five flavours: dark chocolate, roasted coconut almond chips, cookies & cream, Turkish coffee, and Eureka lemon & marionberries. It costs about $7.50 USD.