2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the entire world. Following this crisis, consumers have generally had a breakthrough regarding their diet and, more generally, how they consume. These changes in behaviour have encouraged players in the agrifood sector to make changes to their existing products, and also to launch new ranges. Experts say this dynamic will intensify further in 2021. In this article we will review the 2020 trends in the dairy sector and projections for the coming year.
2020, a year marked by innovation in the cheese sector
During 2020, the cheese sector experienced several significant innovations. We have noticed different trends across different global regions.
- In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the innovations tended towards natural recipes with strong nutritional qualities. This year, cheese brands innovated to respond to increased consumer interest in recipes with improved characteristics (e.g. high protein content, digestive health, etc.) and natural ingredients.
- In Asia and Pacific regions, we notice an attraction to snacking and a strong interest in nutrition. Many brands have encouraged cheese consumption by highlighting the nutritional values inherent in cheese (protein content, calcium content, etc.), as well as offering nutritional enrichment in certain products.
- In America, the trend was more towards vegan cheeses and 0% products.
At the global level for the coming year, we can identify three major avenues for innovation:
- The first is to add value in the cheese section: in unstable economic conditions, consumers will examine prices carefully. To increase the value of cheese, brands can support amateur cooks by offering broader and higher-quality taste experiences with labelled products.
- In the same dynamic and thanks to the new trend of flexitarian diets, consumers will want to consume less but better with high quality products. Cheese brands will therefore be able to adapt their product formats accordingly in order to provide maximum nutritional benefits. They will also be able to blend their products with popular plant ingredients to attract flexitarian consumers.
Global innovation opportunities in the milk drinks market
Manufacturers in the milk drinks sector are forced to innovate in a market that is increasingly encouraging consumers to turn to plant-based milks. One of the avenues studied is to highlight the link between intestinal health and immunity provided by milk.
Manufacturers continue to innovate in digestive health, but the COVID-19 epidemic has given new meaning to the link between digestive health and immunity. Brands are also innovating with other nutrients that promote overall health, such as vitamin D and protein.
However, with the plant-based beverage market growing rapidly and its consumer audience expanding, brands must proactively focus on the concerns that encourage people to abandon dairy products in favour of plant-based substitutes. We note that some players are already working in this area, as evidenced by the launches featuring claims relating to animal welfare, respect for the planet and the absence of lactose, which are multiplying in North America.
In some parts of the world, milk drinks are seen as products mainly aimed at children and are often criticised for being too sweet. However, several recent innovations suggest that brands are trying to make these drinks more palatable to adults and give it new nutritional value.
New trends for 2021 in the yoghurt market
To stand out in a highly competitive environment, yoghurt brands are innovating more around unique and innovative flavours. Yoghurts can also offer multi-sensory innovation through interesting textures to create memorable drinking experiences.
As we have already noted in 2020, naturalness remain a strong trend in the yoghurt sector. Brands should therefore communicate the image of a less-processed product by guaranteeing sustainable agricultural practices and by committing to organic production methods, animal welfare and traceability.
Yoghurt brands also need to adapt their recipes to reflect current health trends, including plant-based recipes and low-sugar and high-protein formulations. This will keep brands aligned with consumers’ overall health and wellness expectations.
This article was written using a study carried out by the Mintel agency.
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