Availability of A2 milk products, such as those from the a2 Milk Co., is good news for the millions of consumers who have trouble digesting milk, according to the brand.
Consumers Get Smarter About Nutrition
Research suggests that consumers are becoming more discerning when they assess overall food nutritional profiles. In addition, shifting consumer preferences and other market forces are causing consumers to reconsider these two key categories. A recent report from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel has found that rising inflation and an uptick in at-home eating have given the dairy milk category a boost.
“Price, as well as assessments of holistic value created by taste, nutrition and versatility, led consumers to put a pause on their exploration of the nondairy category and opt for more familiar and reliable dairy milk offerings,” Mintel’s reports notes.
[Read more: "Winning Over the ‘Not Milk’ Generation"]
Mintel’s research indicates that 80% of parents agree it’s important for their children to drink dairy milk — more good news for the milk category. Manufacturers are introducing niche products with innovative claims and benefits, among them added protein, rBST-free and functional attributes, that tap into renewed interest in dairy milk.
“Consumer data shows us that value-added milk consumption is on the rise,” says Buxenbaum. “Consumers like variety, choices and products that they feel are personalized to them, and dairy milk has a variety of products that fit any lifestyle.”
Focus on Digestibility
Lactose-free milk is one segment experiencing a surge among health-conscious consumers, due to its lower calorie content and easier digestibility, according to research from Future Market Insights. The Newark, Del.-based market research firm predicts that as more people prioritize healthier choices, the appeal of lactose-free products is expected to continue to increase, reshaping the landscape of consumer preferences.
Interest in A2 milk is also growing. All dairy milk contains beta-casein, a common protein, but the breed of cow that’s the source of the milk determines whether milk contains A1 or A2 beta-casein, or both. Some studies suggest a link between A1 milk and diabetes and heart disease as well as digestive issues, although studies in this area are inconclusive and ongoing.
A2 milk is certainly on consumers’ radar, and the subcategory is outpacing the growth of both the premium/specialty segment and the overall milk category. “Our body of scientific research clearly points out that for those individuals that have trouble digesting milk, A2 milk is easier on digestion,” asserts Edith Bailey, global CMO at The a2 Milk Co. Launched in New Zealand in 2000 and based in that country’s capital city, Auckland, The a2 Milk Co. saw its brand grow by 27% in the United States last year.
According to Bailey, availability of A2 milk products is good news for the millions of consumers who have trouble digesting milk. Many consumers, she notes, view the products as an elevated-quality premium milk. “Our growth rate, combined with our CAGR since launch, provides strong evidence that consumers understand the benefits and are interested in our value proposition,” she says. The company recently added a2 Milk Grassfed Whole Milk and a2 Milk Grassfed 2% Reduced Fat Milk to its portfolio.
Meanwhile, fairlife, a brand of The Coca‑Cola Co., based in Atlanta, has been expanding with premium products such as ultra-filtered milk. The brand, which brought higher protein, lower sugar and distinctive packaging to the category, has been growing, with a new manufacturing plant recently added in New York state set to fuel expansion.
Boston-based Slate Milk, a boosted-protein line of all-natural canned chocolate milk and latte products, has also seen significant expansion and is now carried in more than 10,000 retail stores across the country.