EUROPE – Kaslink, a Finnish dairy company, has partnered with the global multinational packaging company Tetra Pak to stay ahead of competition in the plant-based dairy drinks markets.

FoodingredientsFirst reported that the global market for alternative dairy drinks is expected to reach US$16.3 billion this year alone, according to Innova Market Insights data, a dramatic increase from US$7.4 billion in 2010.

While consumers look for healthier ways of living, the interest in vegan diets will continue to increase significantly, particularly for millennials.

Dairy alternative drinks accounted for 7% of global dairy launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2016, up from 6% in 2015.

Kaslink is a family-owned Finnish company specializing in developing and manufacturing premium Scandinavian food products including cooking products, drinks and snacks.

The ambition to try and create new, ground-breaking products for the consumers, according to the company, is one such direction in the move towards non-dairy products such as oat-based drinks and fermented oat-based products.

“Most of our manufacturing today is in dairy, but non-dairy products will take over,” said CEO Tuomas Kukkonen.

“There is a big global shift going on, especially among young people, the millennials, who are switching from dairy and meat to non-dairy and vegetarian products.

This shift will persist. We believe that the first player in the market will have the greatest success.

We want to be ahead of others, so we focus on making investments that will enable this.

The non-dairy segment is only 2-5 percent of the total market share of dairy drinks, so there is room to grow,” Tuomas explained.

Oat has four official EU-level health claims, which make it a great plant-based alternative. Oat is a slow-digesting carb and it helps in weight control.

Beta-glucan, which occurs naturally in oat, helps keep cholesterol on a reasonable level.

Oat also supports the well-being of the gastrointestinal tract and helps to balance blood sugar levels.

“The industry must listen to consumers’ wishes very carefully, and also come up with new food innovations and thus create more demand for plant-based products.

It is important to follow trendsetters as well as to be the first in line creating new product innovations,” said Juha-Petteri.

According to him, the vegan trend is here to stay, but flexitarianism is also growing. “Many people who consume a lot of dairy products want to replace some of them with plant-based alternatives.

For example, in Finland 75 percent of the population have already tried plant-based alternatives to dairy products.”