Published On: 30/04/20202.6 min read

A survey by The Grocer has highlighted a £122.3 million growth in the free-from market in 2019 – a 9% increase from the previous year.

Free-from milk products by Alpro and Arla Foods have driven much of the market’s growth. But numerous other brands have also observed positive results.

Healthier consumer preferences and environmental awareness have been key to the market’s success.

Dairy-free brands continue to develop their customer base with new products and expanded ranges catering to wider consumer segments.

Free From UK Exports Figures

Free From Products: UK Exports Figures 2019

Milk alternative brands lead the way

Milk alternatives like soya milk and coconut milk have driven positive growth for non-dairy sales during 2019.

In fact, the top 17 brands with mainly dairy-free product ranges have delivered an additional £50.7 million in extra sales throughout the past year. This is nearly half of the growth of the entire free-from market.

Alpro’s dairy-free milk range continues to occupy the largest market share, with £218.2 million in sales and a respectable 6.5% growth, compared to the previous year.

Arla’s Lactofree brand has delivered a 3.9% growth, making it the second biggest-selling free-from brand in 2019.

The Collective brand from Epicurean Dairy has also reported positive results. The company’s diverse range of free-from products led to an 11% uptake in sales.

But the continued dominance of Alpro is set to be maintained with new product developments and marketing initiatives. Plant-based Caffè Cup and Greek Style yoghurts are just two of the innovative developments.

Swedish brand Oatly has seen the most impressive growth. It is the fastest-growing free-from company in 2019, nearly doubling its sales figures in the UK.

Consumer attitudes have been key to growth

The ecological and environmental awareness of consumers has partly driven demand for free-from products.

Innovation has been equally responsible for the continued growth trend. Brands like Oatly, Gü, and Alpro have diversified the market with their introduction of free-from ice creams, desserts, and ‘on the go’ coffee ranges. These appeal to non-dairy and dairy consumers alike.

The maturing of the market has also seen industry-leading brands, such as Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s, introduce new free-from and plant-based products into its range, further stimulating demand.

A diverse market not just for intolerances

While the free-from market has traditionally served people with intolerances and allergies, brands are now aiming their marketing at a wider audience.

The trend for healthy eating has certainly stimulated growth. As has consumer concern over animal welfare and sustainable and eco-friendly food production.

Stay tuned for future roll-outs of new, innovative products by free-from brands.

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