As dairy milk consumption in the United States declines to some of the lowest levels in decades, non-dairy milk alternatives like soy, almond, and rice milk are snagging more real estate in grocery aisles. But health concerns that have caused dairy milk to go sour for some consumers are also hurting one alternative while helping to boost another.
Annual sales of plant-based milk are now over $1 billion. And as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, WhiteWave Food, the maker of the non-dairy milk brand Silk, saw a 12 percent growth in sales last quarter. But the company's real growth story came from almond milk, which had a 50 percent boost in sales last quarter. Soy milk, on the other hand, is struggling.
Something is clearly dampening enthusiasm for drinkable soy. WhiteWave claims that across the plant-milk industry, soy now represents just 35 percent of sales; almond milk, by contrast, has surged to more than 55 percent of the market. Research firm Euromonitor International expects U.S. retail sales of soy milk to fall a further 11 percent this year.
While dairy milk sales are held back by lactose intolerance and concerns of antibiotics in milk, alternative milk products aren't immune to health concerns. There's a long list of potential health concerns for soy (even if some may be unfounded). Rice milk? Look out for the arsenic. That's all helped almond milk's rise among U.S. consumers, at least until its dark side is revealed.
Read more: Bloomberg Businessweek
Photo: Flickr/halle stoutzenberger