Dairy is a big part of the UK diet. In fact, it’s the single largest agricultural sector in the UK and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. 

However - its popularity is now being challenged on multiple sides, faced with changing diets, concerns about sustainability and the environment, and a broader move towards healthier eating. This is leading to increasing demand for plant-based food alternatives across the food industry.

In this post, we explore the changing landscape around dairy, and the steps food manufacturers can take to replace dairy without affecting the quality, flavour or texture of the product.

The Rise of Dairy-free

Demand for plant-based alternatives to dairy in the UK is being driven by multiple factors, including:

Changing diets

Veganism, semi-vegetarianism, flexitarianism and plant-based diets are all becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons - including perceived health benefits, ethical concerns and environmental sustainability. At the same time, the number of people suffering from dairy allergies is on the rise.

Sustainability and the environment

The grim outlook presented by the latest IPCC climate report placed a big portion of the blame for climate change squarely at the feet of the world’s dairy industry – and warned that to meet our environmental targets, the world is going to have to significantly cut its consumption.

This is putting pressure on consumers and food manufacturers to look at more sustainable, plant-based food alternatives.

Meeting price demands

Dairy is a costly ingredient – and though global prices have stabilised somewhat, many manufacturers are looking for more cost effective alternatives to drive competitive advantage.

Using the right butter alternatives can be an effective way of cutting cost without compromising the flavour or texture of products.

Rising to the challenge

When creating dairy-free products, or reformulating existing products to make them dairy free, there are a number of challenges that food manufacturers need to overcome.

The first is that consumers don’t want to purchase dairy-free products that are inferior in terms of the quality, flavour or texture of those that do include dairy. At the same time, they don’t want to pay more for a product that tastes the same.

To be commercially successful, dairy-free can’t be a compromise. Essentially, they need to create products that look, taste and eat as well as those with dairy in, at the same or in some cases, a lower price point.

Dairy-free oils and fats

At AAK, we specialise in supporting food manufacturers to produce dairy free products – by providing a range of sustainably sourced plant-based alternatives. From vegetable-based shortenings and butter alternatives to pizza toppings, we offer solutions to suit every product requirement.

Whether you are looking to reduce cost, cut saturated fat or simply to eliminate dairy, we offer oil blends designed to help you achieve your goals without affecting the quality, flavour or texture of the finished product.

Taking a collaborative approach, we focus on ingredient synergy - helping customers to explore how ingredients interact with each other effectively to minimise formulation changes and development costs, without compromising on quality.

It’s part of our INNOBO (Innovation Beyond Oils) programme, and we’ve already successfully helped big brands and private labels across the UK to replace dairy across a wide range of different product ranges.

For additional information about any of our dairy alternatives, the INNOBO programme or to find out more about how we can help you to develop dairy-free products, please contact us today.