Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

Plant Milk’s Ascendance: Revolutionising the Dairy Landscape and Beyond

Plant-based milk has truly entered the mainstream; no longer a niche product consumed by the few, it is a household staple for many. Indeed, plant-based milk is the most purchased category in plant-based food and drink and has both the highest market value and penetration.

In its recent New Food Hub article, ProVeg International uses industry statistics and predictions to suggest that plant-milk is now the growth engine for the entire milk category[1] – leading in terms of product innovation and generating huge sales and overall industry growth.

Industry driving force

ProVeg explains that, in the US, plant-based milk has been a driving force in the milk industry for several years. For example, plant-based milk unit sales grew 19% from 2019 to 2022, compared to animal-based milk, which saw unit declines of 4% over the same period.[2]

dairy free products in Eastern Europe
Image courtesy of ProVeg International

Moreover, plant-based milk contributed $105 million in growth to the overall US milk category in 2021, while animal-based milk’s decline equated to a loss of $264 million. In terms of dollar sales, plant-based milk grew a remarkable 33% over the last three years.[3]

Plant-milk now occupies a 15% share of all retail milk dollar sales in US conventional channels (and rising – no mean feat considering the scale of US dairy!), and 42% in the Natural Enhanced Channel.[4]  Plant-milk also had a remarkable 41% household penetration in 2022 and a 76% repeat purchase rate in the country.[5]

Interestingly, almost half of Americans buy both plant-based and dairy milk varieties,[6] [7] which further points to the normalisation of plant-milk in the eyes of the everyday shopper.

ProVeg Oat Milk/ Dairy-Free Milk
©ProVeg International

A similar thing can be seen across Europe. Plant-milk accounted for a significant 11% of total milk sales in 2022, comprising a staggering 38% of total plant-based sales that year, making it the sector leader.[8]

Plus, the European sales value of plant-based milk shot up 19% between 2020 and 2022 to over €2.8 billion, while unit sales grew 20%. In the same period, ‘conventional’ milk unit sales in Europe decreased by 9%.[9]

Significant growth

Globally, the space is expected to reach US$30 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% between 2022 and 2030.[10] While the conventional dairy products industry is still expanding, over the same forecast period, it will experience growth at a significantly slower CAGR of 3.2%.[11]

What’s the reason for this success? Head to the New Food Hub to read the full article and uncover ProVeg’s alt-milk business insights.

For more support on your plant-based strategy, get in touch with ProVeg’s experts at [email protected].


[1] 2021 US Retail sales data for the plant-based foods industry, (2021). Plant-Based Foods Association. Available at: https://www.plantbasedfoods.org/2021-u-s-retail-sales-data-for-the-plant-based-foods-industry/. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[2] Retail sales data: plant-based meat, eggs, dairy, (2022). GFI Global. Available at: https://gfi.org/marketresearch/#category-sales. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[3] 2021 US Retail sales data for the plant-based foods industry, (2021). Plant-Based Foods Association. Available at: https://www.plantbasedfoods.org/2021-u-s-retail-sales-data-for-the-plant-based-foods-industry/. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[4] Retail sales data: Plant based milk market, (2022). GFI Global. Available at: https://gfi.org/marketresearch/#milk-market. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[5] Retail sales data: Plant based milk market, (2022). GFI Global. Available at: https://gfi.org/marketresearch/#milk-market. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[6] Americans love dairy milk for its taste, nutrition, and affordability, (2019).IPSOS. Available at: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2019-02/dmi_milk_press_release.pdf. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[7] Why half the people you know buy vegan milk, (2020). LiveKindly. Available at: https://www.livekindly.com/half-people-you-know-know-buy-vegan-milk/. Accessed 2023-08-15.
[8] Market insights on European plant-based sales, (2022). GFI Europe. Available at:  https://gfieurope.org/market-insights-on-european-plant-based-sales-2020-2022/. Accessed 2023-08-13.
[9] Market insights on European plant-based sales, (2022). GFI Europe. Available at:  https://gfieurope.org/market-insights-on-european-plant-based-sales-2020-2022/. Accessed 2023-08-13.
[10] Plant-based milk market, (2023). Custom Market Insights. Available at: https://www.custommarketinsights.com/report/plant-based-milk-market. Accessed 2023-08-17.
[11] Dairy products market, (2021). Precedence Research. Available at: https://www.precedenceresearch.com/dairy-products-market. Accessed 2023-08-21.
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