USA – In a recent interview, Krysta Harden, President and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) revealed the dominance of plant-based dairy alternatives in the developing countries despite the products cost restrictions.
Harden noted that while the rise of plant-based dairy alternatives has made waves in North America, Western Europe, and Australasia, there is the need of understanding the global landscape where conventional dairy continues to play a significant role.
She emphasized that in the United States, while dairy consumption has plateaued, dairy remains a versatile, affordable, and shelf-stable food source that is gaining ground in lower-income areas.
“Furthermore, dairy ingredients have been recognized as key resources for addressing malnutrition by providing essential protein and serving as a base for fortifiers,” she noted.
According to Innova Market Insights, more than half of all “dairy” launches in 2022 in North America, Western Europe, and Australasia were non-dairy alternatives, signaling a milk renaissance driven by plant-based options and precision fermentation for cheese and ice cream.
However, this trend is not universal, as the buzz around alternative dairy is primarily concentrated in developed economies with higher purchasing power.
Additionally When discussing the impact of plant-based dairy alternatives on consumer habits, Krysta Harden noted that consumers in developed countries now have a wider range of choices.
However, she pointed out that many alternative products tend to be trendy for a while, with one replacing the other. The long-term sustainability of these trends remains to be seen.
Harden also stressed that affordability is a significant factor, and not all consumers have access to the variety of choices available in Europe or North America.
She emphasized the global perspective, where having a cow can provide sustenance not only for one’s family but also for neighbors in some parts of the world. It’s essential to consider the dietary needs of everyone, regardless of income and resources.
Regarding the impact of precision fermented or cell-based dairy, Harden acknowledged that these products are currently niche and cater to higher-income consumers.
While exciting from a scientific perspective, their availability is not widespread, especially in rural areas of countries like Indonesia or Nigeria, where refrigeration and advanced transport infrastructure may be lacking.
Harden emphasized that the affordability and availability of cell-based and precision-fermented proteins in the longer term remain uncertain.
“Access to refrigerated transport and availability in small local food outlets are also significant challenges in many parts of the world.”
Krysta Harden highlighted that the USDEC’s focus is on expanding exports, as the US dairy market is already well-penetrated, with products in the majority of households.
Harden discussed the strategic importance of investments in Latin America, Asia, and emerging dairy markets in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
“The USDEC is also exploring opportunities in parts of Africa with substantial populations but limited dairy production, aiming to address the nutritional needs of people worldwide,” she noted.