Jan 19, 2021 | By Hannah Manton
Big data meets consumer insights, Experience WGSN.
WGSN predicted the mainstreaming of plant-based and reducetarian lifestyles for many years and spotted oat milk in 2017. Since then, creamy oat milk has conquered coffee shops and plant-milk sets and is moving swiftly into a range of categories.
Oat milk is the fastest growing plant milk in the global market, growing from basically one trendy Swedish brand, Oatly, in 2017 to many by 2020 thanks to its rich, creamy texture that resembles dairy milk, its low environmental impact – oats use six-times less water to produce than almonds – and its natural sweetness and neutral taste that pairs well with coffee, chocolate and other treat savours.
While its sales are much smaller that others such as almond milk, the number of brands and products made with oat milk keep increasing at an accelerated pace. Products in online retail in the US surged 117% for the year ending in April 2020. In the UK during the same time frame, oat milk products grew by 63%.
Oat milk brands are expanding into new adjacent non-dairy categories, showing oat milk’s potential to bring plant-based goodness to everything from a frozen pizza to a craft chocolate bar. New cultured oat yoghurts and butters are arising from both plant-based and dairy brands, while the number of oat milk frozen desserts is increasing rapidly. This year, large global food brands have already rolled out bottled creamers, chocolate drinks for kids and several new non-dairy frozen desserts all featuring oat milk.
One of the key drivers behind this rapid growth is how well oat milk is suited to coffee drinks, both hot and cold. We found that many craft coffee brands are using oat milk in new canned and bottled coffee products, not only due to its plant-based credentials, but also because its smooth texture and natural creaminess work so well in coffee.
This exciting, easy to love and familiar ingredient has plenty of potential to move into non-dairy dips, whipped toppings, baked goods, frozen meals and even vegan canned soups. Its sustainable production and innate creamy qualities, gained from soluble fibre beta-glucan offer brands a big win in a host of food and drinks.
Keep your eye on oat milk as it turns up more often in chocolate bars, cultured non-dairy yogurts and even plant-based butters, but don’t forget, it’s still an amazing addition to your coffee.
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