Beverage Industry

Almond milk expands dairy alternative base

July 12, 2011
Coconut Milk - Silk

Shifts among category leaders took place in the dairy alternatives market as almond milk and kefir helped contribute to category growth. The refrigerated kefir, milk substitutes and soymilk category grew 16.4 percent for $608.3 million in sales, according to SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, for the 52 weeks ending May 15 in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores, gas and convenience stores and mass merchandise outlets, excluding Wal-Mart.

Category leader, Silk Soymilk, a brand of WhiteWave Foods, Broomfield, Colo., struggled with a 13.6 percent decline for $205.9 million in sales and lost 11.7 percent of the market share for a total of

33.8 percent of the category, according to the market research firm. In addition, its Silk Light Soymilk and Silk Plus Soymilk also experienced declines at 7.2 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively.

A report from Mintel International, Chicago, and data from SPINS, an information and services company for the natural products industry, released earlier this year found that the soy food and beverage market declined 16 percent from 2008 to 2010. It stated some of the drop off is due to the recession and consumers cutting back on soy items that are premium priced. The report also addresses soy-free milk alternatives have altered the category and affected soy sales.

Also reporting a decline was 8th Continent Soymilk at 5.7 percent, while private label soymilk remained positive with 2.1 percent growth, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Growing for the category were almond milk varieties such as Silk Pure Almond, which was the largest gainer in the category at 506.9 percent for $66 million in sales in measured channels. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze also jumped to the No. 2 spot in dairy alternative sales with a 224.6 percent increase for more than $76.3 million in sales along with an 8 percent market share increase to bring it to 12.6 percent of the market, according to SymphonyIRI.

The leading kefir brand, Lifeway, again posted positive sales numbers with 24.6 percent growth. Lifeway Foods is celebrating its 25th anniversary and released a low-fat Birthday Cake Kefir variety that has a yellow cake batter flavor and contains Lifeway’s blend of 10 live and active probiotic cultures along with ProBoost, the company’s pair of probiotics that are clinically proven to support immunity and aid digestion, it says.

Also emerging as another dairy alternative is coconut milk. Earlier this year, WhiteWave Foods’ Silk brand introduced Silk Pure Coconut milk in Original and Vanilla varieties. Silk Pure Coconut milk does not contain dairy, lactose or cholesterol, the company says. It also is calcium-fortified and is an excellent source of vitamin D and vegetarian-friendly vitamin B12, the company says.

Although the dairy alternatives category performed well, milkshake brands continued to decline as the category posted a 5.1 percent decrease to $66.3 million in sales, according to SymphonyIRI. The category reported some positives as Hershey’s Milkshakes emerged as the category leader with a 508.2 percent increase to more than $18.9 million in sales, based on SymphonyIRI data. Dean’s Choco Riffic was the only other milkshake brand in the Top 10 to post positive numbers as the others either remained flat or declined in sales, SymphonyIRI data shows. BI