Dairy vs. dairy alternative spreads

Sam Thomas, Head of Category at Upfield UK&I, discusses Britain’s appetite for dairy-free spreads and the drivers of this trend.

There are currently 7.2 million people following a meat-free diet in the UK. This represents a growth of 40 percent over the last 12 months and is predicted to increase to 13 million1 people by the end of 2021, as Brits look to follow vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets.

This growth in plant-based eating has resulted in a 23 percent rise in plant-based dairy alternative sales, with three quarters of those who have tried plant-based dairy alternatives saying they would repurchase.2 In 2020, a report by Mintel supported this finding, revealing that nearly a quarter of Brits were consuming plant-based dairy products, including plant-based spreads. As a result, plant‑based spreads are expected to grow a further three percent across all BSM (butters, spreads and margarines) products.3 Despite dairy sales also growing by seven percent,4 dairy alternatives are attracting new customers across all subcategories. For example, plant-based dairy milk alternatives have achieved a 10 percent share of its parent category, which in turn has created a decline in milk sales.5