The facts are in: food trend predictions for 2019 clearly indicate that the rise of ‘dairy free’ will not only continue to gain momentum, but that dairy free alternatives – including plant-based milks, cheeses, creams, ice creams, yogurts, and more – have evolved beyond a trend and are here to stay. Learn what new options are available in dairy free and boost your business by adding these offerings to your menu!
Food Industry Predictions
According to Food Dive (which provides analysis for food industry execs), as well as reports from DSM’s Global Insights Series on Lactose-Free Dairy:
- Lactose-free dairy, with extra health benefits such as fiber, is the option of the future
- Lactose-free dairy selections in restaurants, fast food chains, and cafés will take center stage
- Huge future growth is expected in the number of lactose-free dairy options and in liaison with healthcare professionals
Demand for Plant-Based and Non-Dairy on the Rise
Since its debut, non-dairy products have swarmed the market, gaining a foothold in vegetarian and vegan households, supermarkets, restaurants, and cafes. However, what started as a means of catering to the millions of consumers who are lactose intolerant or otherwise dairy restricted, has now spread to a growing public sector that is seeking plant-based foods and embracing a dairy-free lifestyle.
Non-Dairy Foods Taste Like ‘The Real Thing’
In addition to being free of lactose, today’s non-dairy elixirs are typically gluten-free and soy free, boasting numerous health and wellness benefits. What makes these alternatives truly remarkable, however, is that the latest products offer the same texture and flavor of their ‘real’ dairy counterparts. In the words of one consumer who fell in love with a recipe for homemade vegan ice cream: ‘I made it, ate it, and was floored. It not only tasted like dairy milk ice cream, but it had the flavor and texture of expensive dairy milk ice cream.’
These lay remarks are corroborated by industry pros. Daiya Foods was the first company to create a 100% plant-based meltable cheese, putting them on the map as pioneers and leaders of the plant-based food market. Their creations have since expanded to include dairy free, soy-free, and gluten-free cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack cheeses, cheesecakes and frozen pizzas, and Greek yogurt.
In the words of Daiya Foods Co-Founder Greg Blake: “We’re unique in that food industry experts claimed this couldn’t be done without using animal-based ingredients such as egg, meat and milk. Not only have we proven these products can be 100% plant-based, but we’ve made them so convincing that they are virtually indistinguishable from their animal-based equivalents.”
Catering to Special Diets Made Easy
The good news for foodservice professionals is that catering to customers with special dietary needs is now easier than ever before. With an increase in demand, an entire new menu of dairy free and plant-based recipes and ingredients has sprouted, including food substitutes and store-bought products that fit the bill. Moreover, the move to ‘moo-ve over milk’ has inspired chefs and food manufacturers to create a plethora of groundbreaking dairy free concoctions, raising the bar to new heights.
Consumers Embracing Healthier Foods
Adding to the non-dairy phenomenon is how consumer demographics have crossed over to include individuals who can and do consume traditional dairy.
According to Andre Kroecher, co-founder of Daiya Foods: “The plant-based lifestyle is becoming more mainstream, in part because consumers are catching on to the various health, environmental and ethical benefits of plant-based foods…The sustained demand for great tasting plant-based dairy alternative products made from nuts such as almonds, seeds such as hemp or sunflower, potato, tapioca, rice, oats etc. indicate they are consumed and thought of as great tasting, staple foods that happen to be plant based.”
And in the words of Daniel Nicholson, president and CEO of NadaMoo!, a company which makes gluten-free, vegan, organic ice creams: “Consumers today are more educated than ever. They care about what they put into their bodies as well as how what they eat affects the environment, animals and the ecosystem around them. They are looking for more plant-based products that taste great and can leave them with a conscience as clean as our label.”
New on the Dairy Free Market
The following will give you a taste for what’s hot in non-dairy and what’s new in the plant-based alternatives market:
- Plant-based Milks: Thanks to advances in the field, the selection of milks has never been so diverse! Tantalize your customers’ taste buds with milk varieties such as hazelnut, cashew, coconut, almond, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) soy, and the rising star in the industry: oat milk. Delicious on cereal, in mac-‘n-cheese, and in your customers’ favorite cup of coffee.
- Your chefs can also concoct their own plant-based milk! If your eatery is just branching into this market, check out the Internet for a growing number of resources such as Yum Universe, which provides myriads of do-it-yourself recipes, including preparation tips, nutritional benefits, and flavor profiles. And here’s a freebie tip for you right now: Since no soaking is necessary, creamy Non-Dairy Toasted Hazelnut Milk can be prepared in a matter of minutes!
- Plant-Based Butters: Made nowadays to perfection, vegan butters taste like butter, can be used in baking just like butter, and come in sticks and spreads, just like the real thing. Besides soy and coconut, you can check online (try the Vegan Baking website) for recipes to make your own.
- Vegan Whipped Creams and Ice Creams: As you expand your foodservice’s non-dairy menu selection, add vegan whipped creams to the mix, including cashew whipped cream, a particularly decadent crowd pleaser. You can also make your own by simply blending two ingredients: icing sugar and coconut milk! And of course, no menu is complete without a selection of to-die-for ice creams. Today’s non-dairy alternatives are typically soy-, almond-, or coconut-milk based, and boast innovative flavors such as Pomegranate vegan ice cream.
- Dairy Free Coffee Cream, Sour Cream, and Cream Cheese: Pour your customers a perfect cup of coffee made with half-and-half vegan coffee cream! Consumers show a preference for cashew coffee creamer or try your hand at the following recipe:
Homemade Cashew Coffee Creamer
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 pitted dates
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 2 cups water
- Soak 1 cup raw cashews in water until soft
- Place raw cashews in a blender, add 3 pitted dates, 1 tbsp. vanilla, and 2 cups water and pulse until it turns to a liquid.
- Refrigerate in a jar for 2-3 days
You can also satisfy your customers’ cravings with vegan sour creams and cream cheeses. Non-dairy sour creams are perfect as a dollop atop baked potatoes, burritos, and in vegetarian soups, and to top it off, you can even look up a recipe for dairy free cashew cream cheese. Our very own Chef Dangoor created a recipe for cashew cheese that’s easy to make and delightful to taste.
Homemade Vegan Ice Cream
A great advantage of plant-based foods is that your chef can dabble with a variety of ingredients to create new culinary delights. To give your business a boost, try out this creamy and dreamy recipe:
Plant-Based Chocolate Ice Cream
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 cup coconut milk (lite)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Chocolate chips – to taste!
- Bake and peel sweet potato
- Blend with coconut milk, vanilla extract, and a desired amount of chocolate chips
- Freeze for 2-3 hours and serve as your restaurant’s pièce de résistance of the day!
Dairy Free in a Nut Shell
Summing up the latest news, non-dairy and plant-based foods are in high demand with the trend expected to intensify in the coming years. Savvy foodservice professionals would do well to satisfy their consumers’ palates with updated menus that include a growing variety of plant-based selections. Grow your business: Go Dairy Free!