Dairy consumers show category-specific purchase behaviors for non-dairy alternatives

The report found that nearly three in four (72%) American consumers who regularly consume dairy report eating or drinking dairy-based products more frequently than plant-based, non-dairy alternatives. However, at least 1 in 4 at least sometimes choose the plant-based alternatives.

Adults over age 55 had the strongest preference for dairy, with the majority (80%) saying that they consume dairy foods or beverages multiple times a week (80%, vs. 67% of those ages 18–34 and 73% of those ages 35–54). Half (50%) of adults age 55 and over said they never consume non-dairy alternatives, compared with only 8% of 18- to 34-year-olds who said the same.

“The options in the dairy section of the grocery store are becoming increasingly diversified with non-dairy, plant-based alternatives—whether they be yogurt, milk, ice cream or cheese. But for Americans who consume dairy, how often and why do they choose dairy products versus plant-based alternatives? And how does their selection of dairy-based versus plant-based vary depending on the type of product?”​ said IFIC.

IFIC’s research​, which was based off of consumer insights from 1,014 online surveys conducted among dairy consuming adults ages 18-80 from April 1 to April 6, 2021, dove deeper into category-specific shopping behaviors of dairy consumers.

Dairy cheese preference

And while some dairy consumers are slowly incorporating more plant-based dairy alternative products into their dietary repertoire, plant-based cheese seems to face the biggest consumer acceptance barrier among dairy buyers.

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