In 2020, the dairy drinks market evolved around one major theme: health. The general trend was already towards wellness and responsible consumption, but the COVID-19 period accelerated this consumption. As such, many milk drinks with fortifying and immunostimulating properties appeared on our shelves.
How has this change manifested in Europe ? See the answer below
Global dairy beverage trends
Let’s look at the overall trend: the older we get, the less effectively we digest lactose. It disrupts our digestive system, sometimes to the point of making us sick. To overcome this reaction, dairy beverage manufacturers are innovating in dairy products that are easy to digest and therefore good for our gut microbiomes. But since the Covid-19 crisis, this area of innovation has undergone a new evolution. A link between the health of our microbiomes and our general health has been highlighted by scientists, thus providing a new avenue for dairy beverage manufacturers.
In addition to this human health aspect, animal welfare and respect for nature continues to grow in this market. This has been reflected in the emergence of new drinks based on plant milks, or promoting respect for animals, the planet and the selection of healthy, local ingredients.
Again in the context of health and wellness, flavoured dairy drinks are making a comeback and targeting an older audience. In fact, although they have often been seen as products intended for children, flavoured drinks are seeking to target adult consumers by offering products that are delicious, but above all healthy.
The european market
Let us now focus more specifically on Europe. Europeans love dairy drinks, with an average consumption of more than 50 litres per person per year. However, due to the difference in population size compared to countries such as the United States, India or China, their market is lower in value.
The growth forecasts for the European market over the next 5 years are quite positive, at around +1%. A few countries stand out, such as Spain and Italy, with negative growth of respectively -1.5% and -3%, or Russia and Turkey, with positive growth of +8.5% and 9% respectively.
Regarding the innovations in this market, there are 2 trends:
1- Dairy drinks with health claims
Between August 2019 and July 2020, 22% of dairy drink innovations featured health claims, compared with 15% between August 2015 and July 2016.
This trend is driven by consumers who place particular importance on their health and believe that food plays a key role in their lifestyle. They prefer products that highlight one or more specific health benefits.
Thus, dairy beverage manufacturers have chosen to innovate in products that are good for digestion, the gut microbiome, the immune system, etc. All with added vitamins and low sugar.
This trend also evolved during the Covid-19 crisis, during which more than 50% of European consumers recognized a link between a functional gut microbiome and an operational immune system. The fermented nature of drinking yoghurts thus takes on a completely different dimension and is likely to once again be perceived as a positive choice for immune support by health-conscious consumers.
2- The return of flavoured drinks for adults
These drinks all have 2 points in common: they are guilt-free and indulgent. With its enticing flavours of fruit, chocolate and even sweets, these products promise a gourmet experience without negative consequences in order to indulge consumers.
While some position themselves as supporting athletic performance thanks to their high protein content and low sugar content, others stand out for the transparency and simplicity of their ingredients. Finally, more and more are opening up to new target consumers and consumption patterns by using plant-based milk formulas.
As such, the European market, historically known for its high consumption of dairy drinks, is experiencing a period of calm with regard to changing value. However, the Covid-19 crisis could alter these forecasts. Indeed, since innovation trends are already focused on wellness and health, it is highly likely that consumers will rely more on dairy drinks with health claims and thus contribute to greater growth in this area than was anticipated before the crisis.
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