We are seeing a seismic change in the way people approach plant-based or dairy-free milk today. Dairy milk is considered a staple in many people’s diets, but rising consumer health consciousness, growing awareness of lactose intolerance, and consumer preference for a more environmentally-friendly diet have increased the demand on non-dairy milk.
According to DPO International Research 2020, consumers in Asia-Pacific have adopted a plant-based diet to improve their health and well-being. In Singapore, consumers have been steadily moving towards plant milk alternatives too, amid raising awareness on sustainability and health.
Check out the potential of non-dairy industry in Singapore.
1. Expect plant-based food to go mainstream
Adopting a plant-based diet is a consumer trend that is felt worldwide with McDonald’s announcing the launch of its plant-based meat burger “McPlant” line in Nov 2020.
In Singapore, many top food establishments have foreseen this trend as far back as 2018, with Grand Hyatt introducing plant-based meat dishes into their menu since two years ago.
Back then when the hotel launched the Beyond Burger, it proved to be an instant hit with a whopping 1,000 burgers sold on the first day. Even up till today, it continues to sell more Beyond Burgers than ordinary beef burgers at its mezza9 restaurant.
In Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, their vegan version of Fish and Chips is well-received too, with the Chef highlighting that consumers can consume it without worrying about impact towards environment.
Another interesting trend to note is that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore in May 2020, Deliveroo reported a 53% jump in orders for Impossible Food – plant-based dishes from restaurant partners compared with the previous month.
2. Well-established coffee & ice-cream scene in SG is fuelling the dairy-free milk industry
Before Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat soared to fame, plant-based milk alternatives were already making its rounds in kitchens and cafes in Singapore.
For instance, Chye Seng Huat, the flagship store of Singapore’s homegrown coffee empire PPP Coffee, is offering options of Oat Milk, Soy Milk and Almond Milk to add into their coffee. Starbucks Singapore introduced Almond Milk as a new plant-based milk option in Q3 2020.
Chye Seng Huat Coffee menu
Starbucks’s new plant-based milk option
3. Frequent searches on non-dairy milk
Let’s dive deeper into Google Trend to observe the increased interest towards non-dairy products among Singapore consumers.
This Google Trend graph shows the interest level of Singapore consumers towards selected keywords over time, with index of 100 denoting highest level of interest and 0 denoting lowest level of interest.
As shown in the graph, over the last 3 years, the search volume of keywords related to plant-based food such as “plant-based diet”, “oat milk” and “almond milk” have steadily increased in Singapore, with the most distinct growth happening from late 2019 onwards.
While “almond milk” was consistently the most searched keywords from late 2017 to late 2019, “plant-based diet” spiked in Oct 2019 to overtake “almond milk” and continues to be more searched in 2020 compared to the years before.
Moreover, “oat milk” also experienced a surge in search volume in late 2019 and the trend continues steadily into 2020, making “oat milk” almost as frequently searched as “almond milk” today.
From the above trends, we are able to infer increased awareness and interest towards non-dairy milk among Singapore consumers.
4. Increased awareness of lactose-intolerance
Research suggests that 90-100% of Asians have difficulty digesting lactose, making them susceptible to lactose-intolerant symptoms like bloating and stomach pain after consuming dairy milk.
Perhaps due to increased consumer understanding towards lactose-intolerance, dairy powerhouses like Magnolia and Meiji have launched lactose-free milk options, ensuring that Asian consumers are still able to enjoy the creaminess and healthy goodness of milk, but without the nasty after-effects.
Milk brands that introduce the lactose-free options
Being naturally free of lactose, plant milk alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk and rice milk will appeal to this group of consumers consciously staying away from lactose products.
5. More actions are taken towards sustainability
As stated in the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), West’s high consumption of meat and dairy is fuelling global warming. And switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change.
According to a survey by Mediacorp in 2019, more than 9 in 10 in Singaporeans are concerned by climate change. They are expressing their wish to adopt a plant-based diet to reduce carbon footprint in Straits Times Forum.
Could adopting a plant-based diet, including drinking dairy-free milk, be the next big thing?
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