Dairy trends unwrapped: Consumers seek added value, scrutinize claims

Global consumer research carried out by GlobalData for ingredient supplier IFF has shed light on the latest market and sensorial trends in dairy, with additional functional and environmental benefits and verifiable label claims being a key driver in purchasing decisions.  

GlobalData surveyed 21,000 respondents from 42 countries across Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Central and South America, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa to identify overarching trends, such as health and wellness, affordability and added value, as well as drivers in product categories such as beverages, desserts, ice cream and plant-based.

One key takeaway is that food inflation has failed to drive consumers away from dairy, with most global shoppers indicating they would rather pay a higher price than settle for average-quality products.

“Dairy has been one of the categories worst hit by inflation, with value CAGR outstripping volume CAGR, and this has been more pronounced in subcategories such as milk, butter and spreadable fats,” Richard Neish, head of global futures, consumer intelligence, at IFF, told us. “It must be said that the majority of global consumers are currently unwilling to sacrifice quality in the face of high prices, with 52% preferring to pay more for dairy to ensure quality is not compromised, and 63% starting to buy, continuing to buy, or more frequently buying expensive or luxury dairy brands in Q4 2023.”

Seeking ‘value with values’ in private label

Despite this, there’s no escaping the fact that 35% of the consumers surveyed did switch to private label products in a bid to trim their dairy spend, he added. “As a result, sales of private label products have increased significantly, particularly in Europe, as they are perceived as offering greater affordability and similar quality to branded dairy,” he explained. “This may be due to consumers believing that brands are profiteering by using macroeconomic pressures as an excuse to disproportionately raise prices – also known as ‘greedflation’.”