U.S. plant-based milk sales grew by 6.4 percent to nearly $2.3 billion in the 52 weeks ending June 12, 2022, with oat milk poised for continued dominance.
While almond milk is still the plant-based milk category leader, with more than $1.2 billion in U.S. sales over the last year, it experienced a small decline of just over one percent versus the previous 12-month period.
Here comes oat milk
That decline may be due to oat milk’s meteoric rise due in large part to Oatly, even despite its spate of recent challenges from supply issues to lawsuits and claims of greenwashing; it is well on its way to giving almond milk a run for its money as sales of oat milk increased by more than 50 percent in the last year, surpassing $527 million, reports data agency, SPINS.
Once the category leader, soy milk lost market share to almond and oat, dropping to $165 million in sales, down 0.09 percent; a decade ago, soy milk sales topped more than $1 billion.
Despite its losses, it’s still the third most popular plant-based beverage by sales. It outranked coconut, rice, and cashew milk. It’s also contending against pea milk, which saw a notable uptick in sales for the year, increasing by more than 27 percent to more than $60 million over the 12-month period.
Sales of coconut, rice, and cashew milk all saw declining sales for the year. Coconut dropped more than eight percent, rice milk was down 11 percent, and cashew took the biggest hit, dropping nearly 14 percent.
Consumers are not showing interest in milk blends, either; almond coconut blends were down more than ten percent, and almond cashew blends declined by more than 32 percent.
Refrigerated milk still drives the bulk of the category, with sales up 6.5 percent to more than $2.067 billion in sales while shelf-stable saw similar growth, it only made up $232,000 in sales for the year.
SPINS looks at food sales at leading U.S. supermarkets, but it does not collect data from all supermarkets including Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, and convenience stores. Plant-based milk is still the largest segment of the plant-based food category. Plant-based food sales hit $7.4 billion in 2021.
Changing consumer palates
Consumers, especially Gen Z and Millennial shoppers, are opting for nondairy milk, too. A recent survey by milk giant Arla found nearly half of Gen Z was “ashamed” to order dairy in public, shifting predominantly to oat or almond milk when ordering coffee, among other categories.
The move away from dairy is driven largely by social media, according to the survey, with 34 percent of those surveyed saying social media plays a dominant role in their decision-making.
Sales are also declining for conventional ice cream products, too. According to recent data, 2021 sales of ice cream and sherbet declined by more than 1.5 percent during the 52-week period ending last September.
Image via Oatly