Reinvigorating the Dairy Sector in 2024

11th March 2024


Despite the growing emphasis on changing dietary patterns, a significant proportion of consumers continue to incorporate dairy products into their diets. This particularly applies to those following a flexitarian approach who show less reluctance to avoid dairy compared to meat. Furthermore, consumers view dairy as a contributor to an overall balanced diet due to its association with essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, and various vitamins and minerals.

While the consumption of fresh milk has decreased over the past few decades, with many opting for alternative functional beverages, it remains a staple ingredient in hot drinks. Although the plant-based milk sector has seen substantial growth, it still remains behind the dairy market, with many consumers willing to switch between dairy and plant-based options based on the occasion. Additionally, dairy products, such as yogurt, are popular choices for snacking, with many individuals regarding them as a better-for-you, guilt-free alternative to items like chocolate and confectionery.

Dairy, Nutritional Labeling, Better For You, Food And Drink, FMCG, Fresh Ingredients, Consumer Insights, Market Research.

Consumers are Cutting Back on Non-Essentials

Overall, consumers say that their dairy consumption habits have remained consistent over the past few years, emphasizing the significance of dairy in their diets and indicating a reluctance to decrease consumption due to health or financial considerations, particularly amidst rising prices.

The exception to this pattern can be seen through the decline in consumption of ice cream. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights indicate that where nearly three in ten consumers express a desire to reduce their intake, reflecting a trend of cutting back on indulgent and perceived non-essential, less healthy products during times of financial uncertainty, although the ability to do so may not fully align with attitudes.

While some consumers are increasing their consumption of soy and fresh milk in pursuit of healthier and more sustainable options, a notable portion has actively sought to reduce their intake, signaling more challenging conditions for the plant-based market compared to a few years ago. 

Dairy, Nutritional Labeling, Better For You, Food And Drink, FMCG, Fresh Ingredients, Consumer Insights, Market Research.

Consumers are Likely to Check Nutritional Labeling in ‘Better-For-You’ Product Categories

Consumers show an interest in nutritional information when choosing dairy products, with ingredient integrity significantly influencing their perceptions of value as they navigate through altering purchasing habits to manage escalating prices while aiming to minimize sacrifices.

Notably, consumers are most inclined to check nutritional labels when purchasing fresh milk products. For example, FMCG Gurus’ market research reveals that 64% of consumers who purchase such products say they regularly check nutritional labeling in the fresh milk category. This underscores a widespread focus on nutritional content in categories perceived as healthier while showing less attention in categories linked to indulgence. Furthermore, within the milk category, consumers are inclined to check nutritional labels to assess product freshness, particularly for perishable items. This highlights the need for product information to be easily accessible and transparent, enabling consumers to make more informed decisions about a product’s nutritional profile within seconds.

Purity and Freshness Come Hand in Hand

Perceptions of quality, safety, and value within the dairy industry are significantly influenced by freshness, reflecting consumers’ more attentive approach to spending and their heightened scrutiny regarding the best value for their money. Freshness is commonly associated with naturalness and products free from additives, concepts that have witnessed a notable increase in consumer recognition between 2021 and 2023. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights show that 71% of consumers felt that natural claims shaped perceptions of whether a product is genuinely fresh in 2023. In comparison, only 43% of global consumers felt this way in 2021.

This shift post-pandemic suggests a decreased emphasis on product story and origin, with consumers prioritizing health and purity over concerns about supply chains. It underscores a consumer preference for authentic ingredients that are perceived as beneficial for overall well-being and the environment. 

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Reinvigoration of Dairy in 2024 – Global Report. For more information, please click here.

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