GlobalData: Demand for plant-based dairy substitutes surges in India amid concerns over lactose intolerance, dairy allergies; milk alternatives market expected to grow 6%-8% CAGR over 2023-2027, driven by affluent middle class, eco-conscious youth

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April 3, 2024 (press release) –

Amidst growing concerns over lactose intolerance and dairy allergies, India is witnessing a surge in demand for plant-based dairy substitutes. Despite challenges like low consumer awareness and higher costs, the country’s affluent middle class and environmentally conscious younger demographics are driving the adoption of plant-based food and beverages. This trend is poised to propel the Indian market for milk alternatives by a value compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6-8% over 2023-27*, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Mani Bhushan Shukla, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Plant-based dairy alternatives are making their way into the market, influenced by global health and ethical consumer trends. Over the years, it has been revealed through multiple research studies that nearly 60% of the Indian population suffers from lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. Nonetheless, a large proportion of these consumers remain unaware of their medical condition and continue to consume dairy products without seeking any medical intervention.”

Francis Gabriel Godad, Consumer Business Development Manager at GlobalData India, notes: “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notable emphasis on health, leading to a significant rise in the popularity of vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian diets. Furthermore, the escalating concerns regarding milk adulteration and the widespread use of antibiotics in cattle farms have resulted in a heightened demand for dairy-free alternatives. Additionally, consumers who prioritize eco-friendliness opt for non-dairy milk options such as coconut, almond, and cashew milk, as these products are produced ethically and have a lower carbon footprint.”

This aligns with GlobalData’s Q4 2023 consumer survey finding that 79% of Indian consumers find “plant-based” product attribute as either essential or nice-to-have when making purchasing decisions**.”

Shukla adds: “Younger consumers find plant-based products more appealing than older consumers, likely due to greater access to information (particularly with higher online use) regarding the negative attributes of dairy products, and health as well as environmental benefits of consuming plant-based alternatives.”

Godad concludes: “By focusing on pricing, flavor, and texture of dairy alternatives, manufacturers can successfully target Millennials and Gen Z cohorts and gain widespread acceptance. These consumer segments are more likely to be enticed by such offerings. Moreover, manufacturers can compete more effectively if they offer customized options that are tailored to specific consumer needs. Considering the high prevalence of lactose-intolerance among Indians, dairy-alternatives has the potential to revolutionize the plant-based dairy substitutes market.”

*GlobalData Consumer Intelligence Center – Market Analyzers, accessed in March 2024

**GlobalData Q4 2023 Consumer Survey­ – India, published in December 2023, with 564 respondents

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