News highlights, market trends, and original data analysis related to the U.S. retail food & beverage industry … by Jay Nargundkar

All About Milk (and Milk Substitutes)

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There have been some seismic shake-ups in the seemingly vanilla world of plain, white milk. A look at Nielsen sales data over the past four years reveals some very interesting trends accompanying the rise of alternative milk products (e.g. almond, soy, coconut, rice) and organic milk. It’s important to note that this data source excludes natural retailers like Whole Foods who are likely to skew heavily in favor of organic and alternative milks.

The quick take:

  • Milk substitutes (15.1% annual growth rate) are growing faster than organic milk (6.9% growth rate) which is growing faster than regular milk (0.9% growth rate)
  • Milk substitutes sold ~$1.1B in 2013, compared to $14.5B for traditional milk; milk substitutes’ share has risen from 4.7% in 2010 to 6.8% in 2013
  • Organic milk sold ~$1.2B in 2013, compared to $13.3 for non-organic milk; organic milk’s share has risen from 7.0% in 2010 to 8.3% in 2013


  • Almond milk (66% annual growth rate) has overtaken soy milk (-10% growth rate) and the two are headed in vastly different directions, with soy likely hurting in large part due to vague health concerns about hormone content (soy contains “phytoestrogens” though at normal consumption levels no conclusive studies have proved a health risk to either men or women)
  • Coconut milk (~$50M in sales last year) is on the rise, perhaps enjoying a halo effect from coconut water’s surge in popularity



  • While Americans may be turning to alternative milk products for health reasons, interestingly enough, that has not meant turning away from whole milk — quite the opposite in fact: whole milk sales have grown at a 4.2% compound annual rate,¬†while fat-free milk has declined at a -4.2% rate
  • “Two percent” milk remains the most popular option

One comment on “All About Milk (and Milk Substitutes)

  1. Andrew
    June 25, 2014

    I have always hated soy milk and consequently viewed all substitutes with suspicion. After trying almond milk though, I would go so far as to change over it completely if it wasn’t twice as expensive as regular. I imagine coconut is even better, but I instinctively assume it’s more sugary or something as a result, which may be entirely wrong…

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2014 by in Health & Nutrition, Natural & Organic, Products and tagged , , , , , .

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