New Survey Reveals Why Consumers Buy Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives

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Comax Flavors introduced survey last summer to better understand consumer perceptions around plant-based dairy alternatives. Comax surveyed 1,000 adults in the United States last July that said they used plant-based dairy products at least three days a week.

Why are Consumers Buying Plant-based Dairy Products?

This question about purchase behavior was at the center of Comax’s survey. They found that for most (48%) consumers, the flavor was the top reason why the purchased the plant-based alternatives. The most frustrating takeaway for the dairy industry was that 36% of consumers bought plant-based dairy products because of the perceived health benefits. Dairy industry veterans are annoyed because they believe that cow’s milk is nutritionally superior.


The survey also took a look at health and wellness as well as animal welfare to understand better why the rapid growth in plant-based dairy products. They found that the younger generations (millennials and Gen Z) were more concerned and influenced by animal welfare. As a result, they are purchasing more plant-based products all around.

The Plant-Based Category Continues to Soar, and Dairy Fights Back

Non-dairy milk sales have soared over 61% in the past five years to an estimated market size of $2.11 billion in 2017. In that same period, regular dairy milk sales have dropped by 15% to $16.12 billion in 2017.


The dairy industry is not going down without a fight and is pursuing a variety of options to challenge the new plant-based dairy alternatives. They are taking plant-based beverages to court over the word “milk” much like how Unilever challenged Just Mayo over the use of “Mayo” in the name. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The dairy industry is also trying to diversify with innovative products including carbonated or fizzy milk products. The new products have a longer shelf life than traditional milk which hits on one of the plant-based dairy’s competitive advantages.

Plant-based dairy products are not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s interesting to see why consumers are buying them and it turns out the flavor is the significant factor. The dairy industry will have their hands full trying to slow down this plant-based boom.

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