Plant-based Dairy Indulgences Intriguing Consumers

Plant-based dairy indulgences are gaining momentum – as this summer’s 2023 IFT FIRST event in Chicago clearly indicated.

Plant-based creamer has ascended to become the third largest plant-based category (after milk and meat) and has grown 24% in dollars to reach $645 million. Alt creamers also increased by 12% in units in 2022, according to SPINS data.

In contrast, unit sales of animal-based creamer declined by 1.4%.

Coffee Category Presents Opportunity

At the recent IFT FIRST event, Ingredion served a Plant-Based Sweet Cream Cold Brew Coffee made with a floral osmanthus coffee syrup and topped with a plant-based sweet cream foam, using chickpea protein concentrate.

Coffee shop patrons are increasingly looking to add toppings to their coffee. Givaudan cited that cold foam had +175% growth on menus and +54% growth in social media discussion in the last year. And cold foam and oat milk are most popular with Gen Z and Millennials. Givaudan created a Salted Caramel Oat Cold Foam & Cold Brew featuring a cold foam made with oat milk and chickpea protein.

Synergy offered a coffee bar concept for Digital Natives (Gen Z) with choices including Horchata (cinnamon syrup with rice milk) and Vanilla Maple Oak (vanilla maple oak syrup with oat creamer). The company stated that “Gen Z is obsessed with iced coffee, with 58% saying they have had an iced coffee in the past three months.”

Noting Americans’ love of campfire s’mores, Westrock Coffee sampled a S’Mores Oat Latte at the Chicago event made with its S’mores coffee concentrate (featuring notes of graham cracker) and oat milk. Quadra Ingredients, meanwhile, offered a dairy-free S’Mores Coffee Creamer.

Dessert Options Abound

Also at the IFT event, Kraft Heinz and the Almond Board of California offered up dessert tacos. Kraft Heinz’s Plant-Based Cannoli Tacos were filled with Philadelphia Plant-Based Non-Dairy Spread and vegan chocolate chips.

On July 25, Philadelphia announced the nationwide rollout of its first-ever plant-based spread. The Philadelphia spread uses coconut oil as a base along with potato starch and fava bean protein to provide a taste and texture comparable to conventional dairy cream cheese.

The Almond Board of California’s Almond-Stuffed Sundae Tacos were made with Almond Waffle Cone Batter, Almond Milk Soft Serve Base, and topped with roasted candied almonds, almond butter chocolate fudge, and multi-colored sprinkles.

Additionally, plant-based ice cream bars were served at the event by Ingredion and Cargill. Ingredion offered three paletas – Hibiscus Sangria, Vanilla Berry, and Mexican Hot Chocolate – with the latter two featuring pea protein isolate.

Speaking of the 25% sugar reduction in the Chocolate and Vanilla paletas achieved with the use of low-calorie allulose, Janelle Litel, a senior executive with Ingredion, told The Food Institute:

“Ingredion research found that 50 percent of dairy ice cream consumers said that more than 30 grams of sugar per serving would discourage them from buying a product.”

Virginia Lee is a market research analyst. She has advised companies on innovation and market entry opportunities in consumer packaged goods at Euromonitor International, Innova Market Insights, and Brightfield Group. Connect with Virginia on Twitter and Instagram at @VirginiaALee.