The Rise of Plant-Based Milks

Over the past 10 years, we have witnessed something of plant-based revolution. With a surge in popularity of plant-based milks, gone are the days when the market was considered niche. The UK plant-based milk alternative market forecast to more than double by 2025 to 565 million GBP (The Vegan Society, 2020) . This is a truly exciting time for new brands looking to take their plant-based products to market.

Prior to the pandemic, the plant-based milk category was already forecast for considerable growth over coming years, however amid the chaos of multiple UK lockdowns, many retailers found themselves unable to keep up with consumer demand for plant-based products. Over a quarter of UK consumers are now using plant-based milk alternatives, valuing the UK plant-based milk market at over £260 million; what’s more is that plant-based milks are now accounting for 8% of total UK milk sales (Mintel, 2019) .

The trend is seemingly driven by the increasing popularity of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets, with a research identifying a 40% increase in consumers adopting vegan diets in 2020 (Finder, 2021) . Typically, it is animal welfare, a desire to reduce environmental impact, and sustainability that are cited by consumers as primary motivators for the adoption of such diets, however in light of the pandemic, consumers are also becoming increasingly health conscious. Health is becoming an increasingly significant motivator for the adoption of plant-based alternatives such as milk, and is often considered a more nutritious, low calorie option to that of dairy milk. This is particularly apparent in those looking for weight management or suffering from allergies/intolerances. With plant-based milk sales up 28.3% in 2020 (Speciality Food Magazine, 2020) , the market will continue to thrive from these shifting trends in consumer behaviour.

Additional drivers for plant-based milk consumption include consumers’ enjoyment of the diversity of options available, with supermarkets and coffee shops now offering a range of milk alternatives as standard in addition to more practical considerations, such as increased versatility and longer shelf life. Plant-based milks last longer than dairy milk once opened and many are shelf-stable, meaning they do not need refrigeration until opened. Never before have the potential advantages of this been more apparent than during the recent Covid-19 pandemic. With government advice to stay home and long queues in supermarkets to contend with, many consumers have demonstrated increasing interest in shelf-stable products.

With the UK considered a market leader in the dairy alternative movement, product innovation is at a record high. As new plant-based milk variants, such as Oat begin to take centre stage, consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous with their milk selection. Oat and barley blends, hemp, and pea milks are just some of the NPD that is cropping up within the plant-based scene; with endless further variables in plant combination, flavoured, barista, activated, sweetened and unsweetened varieties, such innovation is facilitating a boom within the category. With 51% of consumers now buying more than one type of milk, the market is thriving from such an extensive plant-based selection (The Grocer, 2020) .

As the popularity of plant-based milk has progressed, as have the technological developments facilitating mass production/manufacturing of such products. Extensive options now present within the production plant-based milk, with co-packing a popular choice for many dairy free milk products. With co-packing a cost-effective, innovative solution, not only can brands capitalise from the benefits of additional expertise and guidance, brands also have the opportunity for increased scalability once their products have developed traction within the market. This is an invaluable asset at a time where the plant-based category is set for such major growth.

Product innovation will be key to brand success within the plant-based milk category; brands must work to ensure their products are designed to stand out amongst consumers as the market becomes increasingly saturated. At Frampton’s, we can offer a diverse range of plant-based milk products in differing flavours and varieties. With the utilization of advanced ingredients and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, we provide pioneering solutions in plant-based milk.

As specialists in contract packing, at Frampton’s we offer a large range of processing and packaging formats, with our BRC-accredited factory able to manufacture products to a variety of technical standards. With our brand-new state-of-the-art SIG Dome line, we can offer the opportunity for your brand to be the first in Europe to pack Dairy Free in this innovative format. If you have a dairy free product and are interested in any of our co-packing services, do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team.


To talk to one of the Framptons team about your plant-based venture or potential opportunities with SIG, contact