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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

WhiteWave Foods Identifies $2.7 Billion Opportunity in Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based foods such as almond, cashew, and soy-based products now account for 7.5% of sales dollar in the U.S. ‘milk’ market. But, when it comes to other plant-based alternative dairy categories, plant-based foods account for a much lower percentage. Plant based creamers account for only 1.8% of the market, plant-based ice creams for 0.6% of the market, and plant-based yogurts account for 0.7% of the market.

Given these figures, WhiteWave Foods had identified an opportunity for investment and growth in these categories worth $2.7 billion. WhiteWave Foods CEO, Gregg Engles adds, “While these categories are small relative to plant-based beverages, they represent a significant opportunity for continued growth. We have identified almost $3 billion of additional plant-based category potential across creamers, ice cream, yogurts, and other future planned innovation.”

Over the past five years the plant-based beverage category has seen steady consumer adoption and growth. In 2010 household penetration was 18%, growing to 31% in 2015, and WhiteWave foresees further expansion through converting milk-drinking households to plant-based ‘milk’ consumers, and through targeting new consumer groups that have a high percentage of lactose intolerance, such as Hispanics.

Potential for plant based alternative dairy products is also growing overseas. WhiteWave’s presence in gaining strength in the EU through the company’s Alpro and Provamel brands, and in early 2015 the company expanded into China through a joint venture China Mengniu Dairy Company, selling almond and walnut-based beverages under the Silk brand.

“We’re in the early stages of building consumer awareness and trial in targeted markets,” said Mr. Engles. “The plant-based beverage market in China is worth more than $2 billion [and while we are a] startup business [there], growth in the plant-based category is robust…we’re very optimistic about the long term opportunities.”

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