One of the key differences between a trend and a theme is seen when a company extends or pivots its business model in a response to changing behavior be it on the part of consumers or other businesses that it serves. In recent years we’ve seen consumers migrate away from dairy milk toward nut milks for a variety of reasons, some of which are touched on below in the report published by Cargill. That’s the change, and in response, we’ve witnessed the growth in almond, coconut, cashew, oat, and other milks in grocery store cold cases. The same has been true with creamers and yogurt, but now we have Ben & Jerry’s, one of the bastions of creative ice cream, bringing perhaps the most popular ice cream flavor of all to the non-dairy and vegan market.
Yes, Ben and Jerry are purported to be good buys, but what we have here is the Ben & Jerry’s parent, Unilever, looking to tap this growing market with more products. In other words, Unilever is responding to the growing tailwind associated with our Cleaner Living investing theme.
Fifty percent of U.S. shoppers purchase both dairy and vegan milk, according to a new study by food, agriculture, financial, and industrial product provider Cargill.
Whilst 67 percent of participants in the study still believe dairy is an integral part of their diet, just under half stated that dairy is not essential for a balanced diet, and half said they regularly purchase both dairy and nondairy milk. According to Cargill, consumers are opting for vegan milk for a number of reasons, including lactose intolerance and dairy allergies, but also because they wish to stay away from growth hormones, saturated fat, and antibiotics.
A number of studies have linked dairy consumption with health problems, including prostate cancer and breast cancer.
To remain successful, Cargill notes, the dairy industry has to change. It warns that the vegan market will keep accelerating and gaining worldwide traction, and if dairy companies want to keep up, they must adapt and produce more innovative, healthier products. One recent report stated that dairy ice cream and milk sales have plummeted 13 percent in recent years, in response, some dairy farmers are considering a pivot into the plant-based milk market.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, you can have your cookie dough and eat it too. According to their taste experts, Ben and Jerry’s has “hit the nail on the head” with their brand new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. It’s non-dairy, but that’s not all. It’s even vegan.