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Americas: Chilled dairy alternatives threatens traditional products

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There’s a battle brewing in the food and beverage industry, a regulatory skirmish in both Europe and the United States over dairy alternative marketers’ use of dairy terms such as milk and butter.

According to a Packaged Facts white paper, consumers increasingly seek fresh, whole, natural foods, while budging very little in the priority on convenience.

The dairy and refrigerated cases are in this sweet spot, having a huge fresh food advantage over the shelf-stable center store, and even to a degree over the frozen food cases.

Dairy and refrigerated product marketers and segments, therefore, find themselves embroiled in shelf- space battles with players and rivals that were formerly center store, as well as private-label counterparts to these invaders.

The new generation of refrigerated plants milks—with almond milk and novel blends leading the dairy-free charge—represent far more dangerous competition to dairy milk than the soy milks found in shelf-stable aseptic packaging that does not signal either fresh or milk-like to U.S. consumers.

Refrigerated formulation and the familiar gable-top carton make a difference for brand owners.

Besides dairy milk versus dairy alternative beverages, dairy yogurt or ice cream versus soy or tofu versions, other product segments are gaining attention.

They include grass-fed dairy milk, olive oil butter, refrigerated guacamole dips, chilled hummus spreads, chilled nutrition bars and nut butters.