Dairy Trends: Understanding the Global Dairy Market

As the global dairy market grows, consumers are embracing new dairy trends through applications such as grass-fed butter, clean label cheese and nutritional beverages formulated with dairy protein

KerryDigest Fast Facts:
  • The global dairy market is gaining market share, especially in developing countries.
  • Although consumers eat and drink more dairy than in years past, a look current dairy trends and statistics suggests that overall consumption of fluid milk is down.
  • This leaves room for new applications created satisfy the consumer demand for dairy.
  • When developing products for the global dairy market, manufacturers should consider three universal consumer preferences.
KerryDigest Full Scoop:

There's no doubt the global dairy market is growing. Estimates suggest that worldwide, the dairy market will experience a 5% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching USD 703.5 Billion by 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence. The same report shows projected growth patterns rise more significantly in developing countries, with those in South America having the biggest increases followed by the Middle East and Africa. During the same period overall growth is more sluggish in western countries, but still on the rise.

There are dairy trends within dairy growth patterns. For instance, fluid milk consumption in the U.S. is not as popular as it once was, according to a USDA report that suggests individuals drank 91 fewer pounds of milk in 2017 (149 pounds per person) than  in 1977 (238 pounds). Elsewhere it’s more in demand: reports from 2011 suggest that a typical consumer drinks more than 220 pounds of milk each year in countries such as Ireland, Finland, the UK and Australia.

Although such regional dairy consumption fluctuates, amongst manufacturers some of the most common milk products are milk powders, milk fat, fluid milk products, cheese and curd, butter, dried whey products and lactose, according to the Foreign Agriculture Service. Within these and other dairy product formats, we’ve found three broad themes that are including the 2019 dairy trends. These insights can be leveraged by food and beverage brands to capture the growing dairy market.

Dairy Taste, Nutrition and Texture

Personal preference around taste and health concerns seems to most influence if a consumer prefers whole milk, skim milk or something in between. Since such milk types were initially introduced to the market, manufacturing processes have been designed to solve for taste and texture challenges, such as the inclusion of hydrocolloids and other texturant and taste technologies, which can give low-fat milks a rich and creamy taste and mouthfeel. (These products can also help ice cream brands successfully create flavors with novel variegates and inclusions).


However, many consumers have wholly modified their fluid milk habit, switching to dairy-protein-based beverages, such as those in the ever-expanding performance nutrition category. Although taste changes have long been a challenge here, taste modulators are helping make protein-enhanced beverages more palatable.

This is especially important amongst two areas of the population: the growing ageing population and infants, both of which require nutritionally tailored proteins to meet the specific needs of their life stage.

Protein plays a critical role in healthy ageing and maintaining an active lifestyle. Delivering proteins that are nutritionally complete and that meet the functional and taste needs of this growing market is key. Clean flavoured, nutritionally complete proteins (PDCASS of 1.0) that can be incorporated across a range of food delivery systems will be a market requirement as food formulators target this market sector in the years ahead.

Likewise, the development of clean-tasting partially hydrolysed dairy proteins are fueling the growth of the infant formula market, especially in Asia, as manufacturers seek out proteins that can aid infant digestion and improve infant nutrition. For these products, protein fractionation, and specifically our work in casein fractionation, is allowing our customers to formulate proteins that are close to those found in human breast milk.

Clean and Sustainable Dairy

Consumers associate dairy with being wholesome, so the market as a whole is challenged to be proactive in cleaning up dairy labels. One such trend is for GMO-free milk and dairy products, which are part of the movement toward clean label and sustainable foods and beverages. Some of this GMO-free milk comes from Ireland, including the milk produced by the 3,200 farms we partner with in cooperation with the Bord Bia/Origin Green Sustainable Dairy Association scheme.

Around the world, this clean label milk supply is in increasing demand, thanks in part to renewed consumer interest in products such as grass-fed butter, a staple amongst followers of the keto diet, which is popular in the U.S. Clean label cheese is also on the rise, due to the availability of new dairy protein technologies combined with dairy processing expertise which, together, can deliver a product free-from consumer unfriendly ingredients such as emulsifying salts, hydrocolloids and artificial preservatives while still offering a pleasing taste experience.   

The removal of E-numbers, or food additives permitted for use within the European Union, is another way dairy proteins are helping to make cleaner dairy products. By leveraging Kerry’s specialized dairy proteins, our scientists are helping customers remove some or all E-numbers, such as carrageenan and guar gum, from cheese, ice cream and other dairy products.

Classic and Innovative Dairy Products

Although some consumers want a back-to-basics approach to dairy, others want innovation. Our new research on the global cheese market indicates this trend. As consumers in China and beyond develop a taste for cheese, even classic flavours such as cheddar are ripe for novel and unusual preparations, such as the inclusion of cheese powders in untraditional snack foods. In Asia, cheese is being formulated into yoghurt, ice cream, tea and other beverages at least in part because cheese is recognized as a rich source of nutrition in that part of the world.

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As can be gleaned from the cheese in ice cream example mentioned above, ice cream is another dairy product up for experimentation. From candy insertions and sprinkles to exotic flavours to new grabbable snackified single servings, our overview of the global ice cream market shows that, even with a fairly universal shift toward better-for-you products, consumers are as interested in ice cream as ever. To appeal to the on-the-go consumer, manufacturers are responding with innovations in ice cream sandwiches and novelty bars. But health is also top of mind for consumers, as was indicated by the recent popularity of an ice cream designed to aid sleep and the growing market for frozen treats that are organic, sustainable and fortified with ingredients such as milk protein isolate.

Kerry’s original business, North Kerry Milk Products Limited, was formed as a cooperation of dairy farmers in Ireland. In the decades since, our capabilities and offerings have grown, but dairy and dairy products such as cheese and dairy powders and coffee creamers remain an important part of our business. To learn how we help make winning dairy products through our taste, nutrition, performance and food safety expertise, contact us.

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