Dairy alternatives marketers are grappling with regulations over using industry terms such as "milk" and "butter", discussed at length in Packaged Facts' free white paper piece, White Paper: Terminology Tempest in the Dairy Case, authored by Packaged Facts' research director, David Sprinkle.
A recent European Union ruling has deemed it illegal for non-dairy soy/soya brands to market their products with dairy terminology, paralleling a regulatory skirmish in the US that reflects non-dairy alternatives' "rush to the perimeter" taking place in supermarkets. Once tucked away in the shelf-stable center store, non-dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives have jumped into the refrigerated dairy case alongside milk-based counterparts. "This is a battle for shelf space and consumer dollars," says Sprinkle.
Since soy milk's popularity skyrocketed in the late 1970s on the heels of the natural food channel's counter-culture health beverage trend, plant-based milks have become entrenched in mainstream supermarkets. Now next-generation refrigerated plant milks have attracted the attention, if not necessarily the neighborly affection, of conventional dairy milk marketers.
Traditional dairy products have long satisfied consumer demands for both convenience and freshness. The dairy and refrigerated cases are in this sweet spot, dominating non-dairy's shelf-stable center store products, and even to a degree other frozen food cases.
The advent of dairy alternatives' encroachment on the dairy case sanctum is pitting traditional dairy and refrigerated product marketers & segments against rivals formerly tucked away from increasingly health-conscious, knowledgeable consumers.
Unlike their center-store counterparts, refrigerated dairy alternative beverages—think almond milk and novel blends—have the advantages of both refrigerated formulation and a familiar gable-top carton . The new generation of refrigerated plant milk's mixture of qualitative and aesthetic marketing creates potent competition, unseen from products such as soy milk, tucked away in the center store within aseptic packaging that connotes neither freshness nor familiarity.
This industry skirmish is not confined to just dairy's beverage sector. Product segments are mushrooming, morphing, stealing thunder from rivals, and gesticulating wildly to attract attention.