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The Rise of Alternative Dairies

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • Demand for dairy alternatives exploded in 2020. The US, UK, and Spain are the largest dairy substitute markets. Across dairy alternative types, mylks and cheeses form the majority of current demand.

  • Consumer interest in dairy-free yogurts is expanding the quickest. Demand growth is the most rapid in Mexico and Argentina.

  • Oat-based dairy substitutes are set to dominate in the next three years. It is one of the most environmentally sustainable bases and has a lower cost of production.

  • Ample growth opportunities for brands to gain market share in Asia and Africa. The dairy alternative market in these continents is in its early stages of growth.

  • Two companies to add to your watchlist: Felices Las Vacas and Violife. The former is a winner in South America, while the latter's cheese products are a global success.


Full Report

Plant-based dairy alternatives are growing at explosive rates. The US$21 billion market is projected to reach US$37 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% from 2020 to 2025. (1) This towers over the 5.0% growth rate forecasted for the global dairy market over the same period, and represents a US$16 billion opportunity in the next five years. (2) The rising popularity of the vegan lifestyle and robust demand from health-conscious and lactose intolerant consumers have been key drivers of growth. In this report, we present data insights from more than 450K consumer reviews on the plant-based mylk, cheese, yogurt, and butter segments.

Plant-based ice creams are not covered in this report. Check out our data infographic and research report for key market trends and recommendations in the dairy-free ice cream segment.

Rapid growth for non-dairy mylk, cheese, yogurt, and butter

Mylk and cheese are the most popular dairy alternative products on the abillionveg app. Both segments made up north of 65% of total reviews in the dairy alternatives category. Growth is however accelerating across all dairy alternatives. Based on consumer reviews, mylk, cheese, yogurt, and butter experienced a 6-7X demand surge from Dec 2019 to Nov 2020. The yogurt segment saw the quickest expansion relative to the other dairy substitute segments.

Highest dairy-free interest from US, UK, and Spain; Plant-based yogurt at early stages of rapid growth

The top markets for dairy alternatives are the US, UK, and Spain. Butter products were generally the least popular compared to other segments. However, in Canada and Argentina, non-dairy butter was more popular than yogurt. The rising popularity of dairy-free butter in Argentina is also reflected in the 61% decline in dairy butter consumption from 2013 to 2019. (3) Meanwhile, member reviews of plant-based butter products in Argentina on abillionveg soared by 8X in the past year.

Apart from mylk and cheese, yogurt has emerged as the fastest growing segment in recent months. In Mexico and Argentina, vegan yogurt reviews on abillionveg have increased by 12X and 13X respectively since the end of 2019. The global plant-based yogurt market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 19% from 2020 to 2027, faster than the overall dairy alternatives market (+11%). (4) This comes on the back of rising health consciousness among consumers. Indeed, in the next five years, growth of the overall yogurt market (+6.4% CAGR) is forecasted to accelerate ahead of the dairy market (+5.0% CAGR), led by robust demand for yogurts free from artificial additives and preservatives. (5) Looking ahead, vegan yogurts are projected to grab more market share as more consumers become aware of their health benefits. Firms should seize this opportunity by plugging themselves into vegan yogurt supply chains.

More consumers are demanding plant-based yogurt options that are healthy and taste just as delicious as dairy yogurts. Brands like Alpro, Felices Las Vacas, and So Delicious have managed to do just that. At abillionveg, we're always looking to connect conscious consumers with the best plant-based brands. We're thrilled that we can tap on our community who have posted more than 450K consumer reviews to identify leaders of the plant-based space in our top vegan awards.

- Jashvini, Business Development Analyst, abillionveg

Base ingredient: Almond, coconut, and soy dominate; Oat to grow the fastest

Globally, soy, coconut, and almond were the most dominant base ingredients. As at Nov 2020, they accounted for 78% of dairy alternative reviews on the abillionveg app. Across geographical markets, consumer preferences for dairy alternative bases varies. For instance, in Argentina, almond- and coconut-based dairy alternatives are the most well-liked. Also, the popularity of rice-based dairy-free products seen in the US and Spain is not mirrored in markets like the UK, Germany, and Australia. Cashew mylk bases are the most prevalent in consumer reviews from the US, Canada, Singapore, and South Africa.

Looking forward, oat tops our growth charts. From Dec 2019 to Nov 2020, consumer interest for oat-based products surged by 7X, with little signs of slowing down. Its share of total dairy alternative product reviews expanded from 8.5% in 2019 to 13% in 2020. Meanwhile, almond grew by 5X over the same period, expanding its review share by four percentage points to reach 31% in 2020.

In the next three years, we expect oat to be among the top three base ingredients across dairy-free products. The smooth, creamy texture of oat mylk and rising consumer awareness on the unintended negative consequences of almond and coconut mylk production will be key drivers of growth. (6) Additionally, from the producer standpoint, oat mylk production requires substantially less water. It is also around one-third less costly to produce than almond mylk. (7) Although the recent plunge in nut prices owing to the supply glut could temporarily narrow the price advantage of oat over almond, the longer term value proposition of oat remains strong. (8)

Fragmented dairy alternatives market in Asia and Africa

Compared to other regions, the dairy substitute market in Europe, South America, and North America is more developed. Regional leaders of the plant-based dairy space in these markets have emerged. By contrast, in Asia and Africa, where the trend towards dairy alternatives is in its nascent stages, the market is more fragmented. This points towards a critical market expansion opportunity for brands that produce dairy-free products. Firms should quickly establish a strong consumer following in these markets to become a market leader. Oatly, for example, recently launched its non-dairy mylks in Singapore. (9)

Felices Las Vacas emerges as dairy alternative winner in South America; Violife's cheeses winning consumers' hearts globally

Looking forward, we expect top dairy alternative brands to continue witnessing rapid growth. Two brands in particular have caught our attention - Felices Las Vacas and Violife. Since Feb 2020, consumer interest in non-dairy products by Felices Las Vacas and Violife have risen by 8- and 6-fold respectively. These brands are showing early signs of a rapidly expanding loyal consumer base, and hold promising global growth potential. In South America, Felices Las Vacas has emerged as a winner across most dairy alternative categories. The brand is among the top three reviewed brands in the butter, yogurt, and cheese categories on abillionveg.

We recently shifted to a new factory which has enabled us to increase production by 10X. This will boost our ability to meet surging demand for our products going into 2021. Next year, we will expand our product range to incorporate vegan chicken wings, meat balls, other types of vegan cheeses (e.g., Reggianito, Fontina, etc.), and chocolate desserts. By Feb 2021, our products will be available in other Latin American countries, like Uruguay and Chile.

- Roberto Cantoli, CEO/Co-founder, Felices Las Vacas

Further, we have identified Violife as a strong global contender in the Cheese category. It dominates the market in Europe, and is within the top three most popular cheese brands in North America, Africa, and Asia. Both brands have also clinched top positions in our Top 20 Vegan Cheese and Yogurt Awards. We recommend investors, firms seeking strategic partners, and plant-based food distributors to add Felices Las Vacas and Violife to their watchlists.

Rise in plant-based dairies presents a golden opportunity

Our study of more than 450K member reviews on the abillionveg app shows rapid growth in consumer interest in dairy-free products. Currently, the US, UK, and Spain are the largest markets for dairy substitutes. Within dairy alternatives, we found that vegan yogurts are at the early stages of rapid growth. We expect demand for dairy-free yogurts to expand quickly in the coming years, especially in Mexico and Argentina. While almond, coconut, and soy bases dominate the current dairy substitute market, we expect oat to be the future of plant-based dairies. Over the past year, several brands have achieved an exceptionally strong consumer following on our platform. We've highlighted Felices Las Vacas as a clear leader in South America and Violife as a strong global vegan cheese contender. In the next three to five years, we expect dairy substitutes to be one of the fastest-growing plant-based categories. Firms involved in expanding consumer access to plant-based dairies will reap significant rewards.


Ravi Gopalan, @ravi-gopalan

Maria Tan, @mariaubergine



  1. Markets and Markets (2020) Dairy Alternatives Market by Source, Application, Distribution Channel, Formulation, and Region. Retrieved from

  2. Mordor Intelligence (2020) Dairy Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025). Retrieved from

  3. Statista (2020) Consumption of Butter in Argentina from 2010 to 2019. Retrieved from

  4. Grand View Research (2020) Vegan Yogurt Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report. Retrieved from

  5. Research and Markets (2020) Global Yogurt Market - Forecasts from 2020 to 2025. Retrieved from

  6. McGivney, A. (2020) Almonds are Out. Dairy is a Disaster. So What Milk Should We Drink? Retrieved from

  7. Jiang, I. (2020) Here's Why Oat Milk is the One Plant-based Milk to Rule Them All. Retrieved from

  8. Terazono, E. (2020) Nut Prices Plunge as Pandemic Fears Hit Sellers. Retrieved from

  9. Vegconomist (2020) Oatly Expands Further into Asia With Singapore Launch. Retrieved from


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