Study Explores Why Consumers Choose Dairy Milk or Plant-based Alternatives

Published on: Jul 24 2017

A new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science brings us one step closer to understanding the consumer values that drive purchases of dairy milk or plant-based alternatives.

Woman drinking milk

The migration of many consumers from traditional fluid milk to plant-based alternatives, like soy- and almond-based beverages, has been a decades-long phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. To answer the question of ‘why?’, researchers asked dairy consumers, nondairy consumers, and consumers of both to answer questions about their values driving those purchases (999 total participants).

A key distinguishing factor for purchase of plant-based alternatives was a goal for consuming less animal products, either due to beliefs about animal mistreatment or reducing environmental impact. For dairy milk, consumers perceived these beverages as a staple food item. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle was an important attribute for both consumer groups.

Some preferences and values specific to each group are:

Dairy milk

  • Fat content was the most important attribute, with 1% or 2% most preferred.
  • Package size and label claims were also important

Plant-based alternatives

  • Sugar content was the most important attribute
  • Plant source was also important, with almond being the most desirable
  • Lactose-free drives purchase of these beverages
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