U.S. Non-Dairy Milk Sales Grew 61% Over Last Five Years

Mintel report indicates new non-dairy milk types are sparking excitement among consumers.

As the popularity of plant-based nutrition grows, it appears non-dairy milk is increasingly finding its place in American refrigerators.

New research from Mintel indicates non-dairy milk sales have seen steady growth over the past five years, growing an impressive 61% since 2012, and are estimated to reach $2.11 billion in 2017.

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While almond (64% market share), soy (13% market share) and coconut (12% market share) remain staples in the category, new non-dairy milk types are sparking excitement as consumers look to diversify their non-dairy milk choices.

Indeed, new varieties have experienced fast growth in popularity as two thirds (63%) of those who have purchased pecan milk say they bought more pecan milk in 2017 than in 2016, while 58% of quinoa milk consumers say they bought more quinoa milk in 2017 than the year prior.

“While almond, coconut and soy milks remain the most popular types of non-dairy milk, other nut and plant bases are gaining traction, including pecan, quinoa, hazelnut and flax milks,” said Megan Hambleton, beverage analyst at Mintel. “Both established and new brands are taking advantage of the growing non-dairy milk segment, innovating with alternative non-dairy bases. Innovation will be a catalyst to drive the category forward in 2018 as both mainstream bases like almond and alternative plant bases offer added functional benefits and unique flavors. We predict that new plant bases such as cashew and rice will allow new entrants into the non-dairy milk category to eventually surpass the soy milk segment, one of the first non-dairy milk segments to really take off with consumers.”

As flavor innovation catches consumers’ eyes, Mintel research shows that flavored milk is the fastest growing segment of the dairy milk category over the last five years, with sales estimated to reach $1.74 billion in 2017, an 18% increase since 2012. And, it seems there will be no slowing down in years to come as sales of flavored milk are forecast to continue to grow 21% by 2022.

Behind this sales growth is an increase in interest from consumers for their favorite flavors as two in five (40%) dairy milk consumers agree that they bought more flavored cow’s milk in 2017 than in 2016. What’s more, one in 10 (11%) dairy/non-dairy milk consumers agree they are buying more milk because of the innovative flavors.


Despite sales making a splash, flavored dairy milk has room to grow as just one quarter (23%) of Americans say they have purchased flavored cow’s milk such as chocolate. While children under age 18 are more likely (78%) to drink flavored milk, it seems adults are pouring themselves a glass as well, with more than three quarters (76%) of adult flavored milk buyers saying they drink flavored milk.

Another segment gaining momentum is whole milk as sales have increased 8% since 2012 and are estimated to reach $5.36 billion in 2017. As many consumers move toward a more natural and holistic approach to nutrition, skim/low-fat dairy milk sales have decreased 28% in the last five years and shelf stable dairy milk sales have decreased 9%. Overall sales in the dairy milk category have fallen 15% since 2012, reaching an estimated $16.12 billion in 2017.

When it comes to purchasing milk, dairy and non-dairy consumers take different approaches. While nearly all non-dairy milk consumers also purchase dairy milk (90%), they tend to consider more factors when purchasing.

Non-dairy milk purchasers are more likely to seek out milks that deliver on flavor (48% versus 40% of dairy consumers), vitamins and minerals (43% versus 36% of dairy consumers) and that are high in protein (42% versus 31% of dairy consumers). Non-dairy milk buyers are also more likely to look for ingredients that are natural (46% versus 36% of dairy consumers) and/or organic (33% versus 23% of dairy consumers).