The dairy industry is witnessing a massive transformation as the consumer preferences are gradually changing, owing to the increasing awareness toward health and wellness.
Consumers globally have off-late realized that traditional dairy is unsuitable for their consumption due to the high lactose levels in the dairy products, thus paving the way for the future of lactose-free dairy products. The disruption of lactose-free dairy products has brought about high product diversity in this category of dairy products.
According to the market intelligence study by BIS Research, the global lactose-free dairy market was estimated at $6.90 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a significant CAGR of 9.80% during the forecast period from 2019 to 2025. The market is projected to reach $12.09 billion by 2025.
The market growth can be attributed to a rise in demand for healthier dairy alternatives, growing lactose intolerant population, and rising purchasing power of consumers. As of 2019, almost 75% of the global population reported lactose intolerance, with levels reaching as high as 90% amongst East Asian countries. Dairy products that have low levels of lactose, such as hard cheese and butter, are still preferred in traditional forms as compared to lactose-free variants.
The lactose-free dairy products available in the market and covered in the study include milk, cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, and others. Lactose-free milk is the most popular lactose-free dairy product. Consumers who want to switch to lactose-free dairy products first test and adopt the most basic dairy product, i.e., milk.
Lactose-free cheese is a popular choice amongst consumers who have established themselves as regular lactose-free dairy products consumers. Yogurt is an upcoming lactose-free dairy product, especially amongst consumers who have adopted yogurt variants, such as Greek yogurt.
An upcoming segment of the lactose-free dairy product is the lactose-free ice-cream product category. This product is still at a very nascent stage. Most of the lactose intolerant population is still adapting to the basic dairy products, such as lactose-free milk and lactose-free yogurt. The addition of lactose-free ice creams to the overall lactose-free dairy product portfolio has come as a breakthrough for those with acute lactose intolerance, removing their dependence on traditional dairy products. The others segment consists of products such as milk powder, dietary supplement, spread, and cream.
The lactose-free milk market is anticipated to be the largest as the need to substitute traditional milk with lactose-free milk is growing exponentially. The lactose-free yogurt is expected to grow the highest during the forecast period, with the popularity of the product as an on-the-go snack for millennials. The perception of consumers toward traditional yogurt is that it is already low in lactose levels, thus causing little to no discomfort in consumption.
Established dairy players across regions have entered the lactose-free dairy products market, leveraging their wide network of consumers and various distribution channels. These players are also creating awareness amongst consumers through promotional and marketing strategies to persuade consumers to opt for lactose-free dairy products to suit their nutritional needs.