Lactose-free dairy products: not an oxymoron, but a growth area

Innova Market Insights
Thursday, 12 July, 2012


While ‘lactose-free dairy products’ might sound like an oxymoron, apparently it’s a huge growth area. Innova Market Insights has reported that global launch numbers for lactose-free dairy products more than tripled in the five years leading to 2012.

In 2007, lactose-free dairy products accounted for less than 2.5% of total dairy introductions; by 2012, they made up 4.5% of total dairy introductions. Interest in lactose-free dairy products has been highest in the USA and western Europe, with 10% and 6% respectively of total dairy launches in the past 12 months being marketed as lactose-free.

Lu Ann Williams, Research Manager for Innova Market Insights, puts the growth down to several factors: interest in dairy alternatives, improved labelling, growing awareness of the potential problems associated with lactose intolerance and technological developments allowing the production of better-tasting products.

Rather than just being focused on the specialist dietetic market, lactose-free products are now moving into the mainstream. Large companies have extended their brands with lactose-free alternatives: Danone’s Activia now comes in a lactose-free option, Yoplait has four lactose-free variants and New Zealand’s Anchor dairy brand has released two Zero Lacto lactose-free alternatives.

Already established dairy alternative sectors have the highest share of lactose-free ranges, particularly beverages, with over 30% of products marketed as lactose-free. Creamers accounted for over 9% of introductions in the beverages subsector.

Williams says the increasing presence of lactose-free options in mainstream dairy markets will drive both the dairy sector and the food and drinks market forward.

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