In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim allowing soymilk manufacturers to state that consuming 25 grams of soy protein in a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, says Virginia Lee, senior research analyst at Chicago-based Euromonitor International. This claim boosted the popularity of soymilk, and it continues to be the most popular dairy alternative beverage today, she says. However, the research firm estimates that sales of soymilk declined 5.8 percent from $981 million in 2009 to $924 million in 2010, and another 8.5 percent in 2010 reaching $846 million in 2011.
“Soymilk’s decline is due to consumer migration from soymilk to other dairy alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk due to taste, health concerns and calories,” Lee says. “Many U.S. consumers have been switching from soymilk to almond milk because they consider almond milk to be better tasting than soymilk. Almond milk is also gaining fans because it contains fewer calories than soymilk.”