Shoppers increasingly look for dairy-free alternatives

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Raw vegan cakes volcanoes made from fermented cashew mousse, with raspberry jam, decorated with coconut flakes and sublimated raspberries (Photo: iStock)

With flexi-diets becoming the new norm, demand for dairy-free alternatives are on the rise, new research shows.

A consumer study by Rich’s, leading supplier of premium bakery products, has found that 17 per cent of UK consumers are now looking for dairy-free alternatives.

The research has identified a major trend of flex-diets, with consumers alternating between their preferences regularly, whether that’s from weekday to weekend, or when at home or out with friends.

Total commitment to a certain diet is also on the rise, the study has found.

“People are more willing to try different regimens than ever before, and the rise of free-from products has contributed to this growth,” commented John Want, Rich’s marketing director.

Except for having an intolerance, health purpose has been the top reason for consumers to opt for dairy and gluten-free alternatives.

For vegan diets, almost half chose ‘helping the planet’ as the most important factor, whilst the major driver for becoming a vegetarian was out of compassion for animals, followed by sustainability.

“Our research showed that free-from brands also need to offer more clarity with on-pack labelling, especially with confusion from consumers around free-from/plant-based definitions,” Want added.

He said free-from sweet bakery, which is worth £54.4 million but without an in-store presence, is a potential growth area for retailers.

Earlier this year, Rich’s brought two dairy-free cream alternatives to market as part of its ‘Culinary Solutions’ range.

“We have a lot of exciting free-from innovations in the pipeline, both in the grocery and out of home channel, which will meet gaps in the market and further boost the category,” Want said.

The total UK grocery meat-free and plant-based occasions are now worth £3.4 billion, according to Kantar Worldpanel data.