Demand for Oat Milk Powder Accelerated by COVID-19 Pandemic

Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes aren’t the only products in high-demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Oat milk and other dairy alternatives sales spiked more than 300% in the week ending Feb. 22.

Oat milk outsold medical masks, hand sanitizer, thermometers and disinfectant in dollar sales in February according to Nielsen. For context of growth compared to other pandemic purchases, bottled water and first aid kits only saw a 5.1 and 6.2 percent growth, respectively. Plant-based food has seen a higher growth rate than general food sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Compared with last year, plant-based sales were up 90% in mid-March.

Oat milk in particular saw a growth of 212% in a 31-week period compared to the same period last year.

The pandemic has driven a huge uptick in bulk purchases and seen preferences shift to longer-life products over fresh alternatives.

Plant-based products, including dairy alternatives, have been on the rise for the last couple years, and the trend has only been accelerated by the pandemic. The plant-based food market is predicted to be worth $74.2 billion by 2027, according to a recent forecast.

Many brands have recognized the demand, and opportunity, and are now offering or launching plant-based products. McDonalds joined this list recently, announcing the “McPlant” line that will offer an array of plant-based products in 2021. It’s created a newfound demand for food manufacturers and others to create new products that deliver on the demand for plant-based products in pandemic-proof applications.

This trend has carried over to the grocery industry with Kroger announcing the addition of 50 new vegan items to its $2.5 billion Simple Truth Plant Based line, that launched in September 2019, to meet consumers growing appetite for plant-based alternatives.

As Eating Out Declines, Opportunity Arises for At-Home Convenience

Over the last few years we have seen restaurants and coffee shops adapt to the use of plant-based products, including dairy alternatives, so it is only natural that consumers are demanding these ingredients and flavors for their at-home applications.

Oat milk – and oat milk powder – has become a pantry staple.

It is no secret that baking quickly became the quarantine hobby of COVID-19. Many families have turned to baking kits as a kid-friendly activity. Baking kits with oat milk powder are an in-demand twist on this growing trend due to its texture and lightly toasted oat flavor.

At the same time, consumers are recreating their dining out traditions from their own kitchens. Brunch remains a weekend staple with breakfast items made at home. Boxed pancake and waffle mixes and other recipes are increasingly including oat milk to meet dietary needs and consumer preferences.

At the same time, trips to the ice cream shop this summer were replaced with at-home cones and sundaes, including healthier and non-dairy ice cream alternatives. And as we head into the winter, we can expect to see oat milk being used in many hearty soups. In fact, Feel Good Foodie has already seen 149% increase in views of its Roasted Butternut Squash Soup containing oat milk.

Why Do People Drink Oat Milk?

There are many dairy alternatives available, yet the demand for oat milk is much higher than other options on the market today. Oat milk is one of the healthiest dairy alternatives due to its high fiber, and good levels of vitamins A, B12 and D. Oat milk is also great for those who are gluten-free or have soy or tree-nut allergies – it even has more calcium than cow’s milk.

Yet oat milk is not popular solely for its nutritional offering. With almond milk needing over 1,900 gallons of water to produce a single liter of the milk alternative, oat milk’s production process is much more sustainable. Most importantly, it tastes good. Unlike other dairy alternatives, many consumers prefer oat milk to traditional milk and seek it out in their food choices.

Consumers Drive Competition

Coronavirus highlights how consumers are not only driving sales but driving the applications of oat milk. Bluegrass Ingredients was uniquely prepared for this demand, having first developed an oat milk powder in 2019. Now oat milk is taking on many applications and additional flavors, Bluegrass Ingredients services in flavor matching and blending allow food manufacturers to take the next step in innovating and creating new products. It’s one piece of a larger effort to create formulations that meet shifting market demands and give customers the flavors they crave in more versatile, affordable and sustainable ways.

To learn more about Bluegrass’ oat milk powder and other market-driven flavor solutions, contact us.

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