PLANT BASED CHEESE

Part
01
of nine
Part
01

Plant-based Cheese Market - Market Size and Growth

According to Nielsen's research conducted on behalf of PlantBasedFoods, the U.S. market size for plant-based cheese was worth $124 million in 2018. Although there is no publicly available source that projects the CAGR for the U.S. plant-based cheese market, Gordon Brothers consultants estimate the growth of non-dairy products in the U.S. will be between 10% and 15% through 2020. The global CAGR for plant-based cheese is expected to be 8.6% through 2028, which represents the minimum growth estimate for the U.S. plant-based cheese market.

U.S. MARKET SIZE OF PLANT-BASED CHEESE

  • In 2018, the plant-based cheese market in the U.S. was worth $124 million.
  • The entire plant-based food market in the U.S. was worth $3.3 billion in 2018
  • Therefore, plant-based cheese represents 4% of the entire U.S. plant-based food market.
  • The plant-based dairy market segment in the U.S. was worth $697 million in 2018.
  • Therefore, plant-based cheese represents 18% of the plant-based dairy market segment.

GROWTH OF PLANT-BASED CHEESE IN THE U.S.

  • The plant-based cheese market jumped 43% in between 2017 and 2018, outpacing all other plant-based dairy products except plant-based creamers (131%) and plant-based yogurts (55%).
  • According to Gordon Brothers, a global consulting company, in the U.S., non-dairy products, of which plant-based cheeses are a part, were expected to grow at a CAGR of between 10% and 15% between 2016 and 2020.
  • Globally, the plant-based cheese market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% through 2028.
  • Since North America currently "holds the major share in terms of market value in the global plant-based cheese market" and the fact that the U.S. is the "largest producer of plant-based cheese across the region," it is assumed that the growth rate for plant-based cheeses will out pace the global market and fall somewhere between the expected 10% and 15% projected by Gordon Brothers.

MARKET DRIVERS

  • Increasing concerns over the environment, human health, and animal welfare are partially responsible for the growth of the plant-based cheese market in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., there is a major trend toward healthy lifestyles, which is fueling the change from animal-based cheese to plant-based cheese.
  • Americans are becoming more aware of plant-based alternatives to traditional cheese through social media, promotional campaigns, and industry advertisements.
  • The only hindrance to the growth of the plant-based cheese market is the "soaring cost of vegan cheese alternatives."

RELEVANT MARKET NEWS

  • In November 2018, Norseland introduced its Applewood Vegan product, a vegan smoked cheese product made from coconut and "fortified with vitamin b12 and calcium."
  • Dairy-free manufacturers have partnered with medical and healthcare advisers to develop consumer awareness campaigns centered on plant-based cheese products to "assist those in selecting healthier products and helping lactose intolerant in shifting to dairy alternatives."
  • Many leading fast food chains, including McDonald's and Domino's Pizza, have added vegan cheese options to their menus in an effort to tap into the growing market.
  • North America and Western Europe are the most lucrative markets for plant-based cheese because of the popularity of ready-to-eat snacks.
  • In 2018, soy-based cheese held the largest market share of the global plant-based cheese market.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To find the current market size and projected growth rate (CAGR) of the U.S. plant-based cheese market, we began with formal market research studies and quickly found the most recent one from Nielsen, which was conducted on behalf of PlantBasedFoods. This gave a very straightforward response to the market size for plant-based cheese in the U.S. because the report broke down the revenues for each plant-based segment. We also learned from this report that plant-based cheeses had grown by 43% between 2017 and 2018, but the study did not reveal a projected CAGR.

Therefore, we continued our research for the projected growth rate by examining other market research studies from companies like Persistance Market Research, Transparency Market Research, Mordor Intelligence, and MarketWatch, among others, but all reports were for the global market and did not make the U.S. CAGR publicly available. We did find that the global CAGR for the plant-based cheese market is expected to be 8.6% through 2028 and that North America is a lucrative market. Later, we also found that North America holds the largest share of the global plant-based cheese market and that the U.S. is the largest producer of plant-based cheese in the region. The combination of this information indicated to us that the U.S. CAGR would likely be higher than the global average.

We continued our search through non-dairy industry publications and websites such as FoodNewsfeed, PlantBasedNews, VegNews, FoodNavigator-USA and even through dairy industry publications like the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, CheeseMarketNews, the USDA. Our assumption here was that non-dairy industry publications would want to tout the growth of plant-based cheese, while the dairy industry would mention the growth as a threat. Unfortunately, even though we came across numerous articles and reports in these publications, we only found references to the global data we had already discovered.

We switched tactics again and began looking for older reports that might contain future projections for the plant-based cheese segment that would cover years beyond 2019. This was somewhat successful as we found a report from Gordon Brothers, a consulting company, that mentioned the U.S. market for non-dairy products was estimated to grow between 10% and 15% through 2020. Unfortunately, Gordon Brothers does not indicate where these numbers came from, so we were unable to provide the primary source. In addition, the data is not for the exact market segment we wanted, but due to the lack of publicly available data, we included this estimate as a point of reference. Despite searching through earlier versions of all the above-mentioned research reports and industry publications, we were still unable to find a better estimate.

Therefore, using the global CAGR, the fact that North America holds the major share of the global plant-based cheese market, and the Gordon Brothers projection of a 10%-to-15% growth rate of non-dairy products in the U.S. through 2020, we assumed the CAGR for plant-based cheeses in the U.S. will grow at a minimum of 8.6% and a maximum of 15% through 2028.

Calculations for the market share of the plant-based cheese segment are below.

Plant-based cheese market size in the U.S.: $124 million.
Entire plant-based food market in the U.S. was worth $3.3 billion in 2018
The plant-based cheese segment represents 4% of the entire U.S. plant-based food market ($124,000,000 / $3,300,000,000).
Plant-based dairy market segment market size in the U.S.: $697 million
The plant-based cheese segment represents 18% of the plant-based dairy market segment ($124,000,000 / $697,000,000).
Part
02
of nine
Part
02

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Market Size and Growth

Figures from The Good Food Institute suggest that the market for plant-based dairy alternatives, excluding plant-based cheese as requested, is around $2.52 billion. They also suggest that the market is growing at a CAGR of around 15.36%.

MARKET SIZE

  • The Good Food Institute reports that sales in plant-based dairy categories in the United States in the year ending August 11, 2018 were as follows:
  • These figures suggest that the size of the market for plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States in the year ending August 11, 2108, excluding plant-based cheese, was $2,521,672,098 or around $2.52 billion.

MARKET GROWTH

  • The Good Food Institute reports that year-on-year sales growth in plant-based dairy categories in the United States in the year ending August 11, 2018 was as follows:
    • Plant-based milk — 9%
    • Plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty — 40%
    • Plant-based yogurt — 55%
    • Plant-based butter — 6%a
    • Plant-based creamer — 62%
  • These year-on-year growth rates suggest that sales in plant-based dairy categories in the United States in the year ending August 11, 2017 were as follows:
    • Plant-based milk — $1,671,554,563
    • Plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty — $165,750,957
    • Plant-based yogurt — $112,384,210
    • Plant-based butter — $159,318,518
    • Plant-based creamer — $76,884,648
  • These computed figures, in turn, suggest that the size of the market for plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States in the year ending August 11, 2017, excluding plant-based cheese, was $2,185,892,896 or $2.19 billion.
  • The market for plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States, excluding plant-based cheese, can therefore be estimated as growing at a CAGR of 15.36%.

OTHER INFORMATION

  • Grand View Research has recently published a bar chart depicting the actual and projected yearly size of the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives. Though the market research firm segments the market differently and not all values are displayed, the following market sizes can be estimated from this bar chart:
    • By 2019, the size of the market for plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States in 2019 will be around $3.5 billion.
    • By 2024, the size of the market for plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States will be around $6.5 billion.
  • The portion attributable to cheese could not be isolated given the limited information the market research firm has disclosed, but these figures suggest that the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives, segmented into almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and others, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.18% during the forecast period 2019-2024.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

The Good Food Institute readily provides the size and growth of each of the following plant-based dairy categories in the United States: plant-based milk, plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty, plant-based yogurt, plant-based butter, plant-based cheese, and plant-based creamer. To determine the size of the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives, excluding plant-based cheese, we summed up the relevant components as follows:

Plant-based dairy alternatives, excluding plant-based cheese: $1,821,994,474 + $232,051,340 + $174,195,525 + $168,877,629 + $124,553,130 = $2,521,672,098

To determine how fast the market is growing, we checked how big the market size was previously. Using the category growth rates, we computed the previous category sizes and previous market size as follows:

Plant-based milk: $1,821,994,474 / 1.09 = $1,671,554,563
Plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty: $232,051,340 / 1.40 = $165,750,957
Plant-based yogurt: $174,195,525 / 1.55 = $112,384,210
Plant-based butter: $168,877,629 / 1.06 = $159,318,518
Plant-based creamer: $124,553,130 / 1.62 = $76,884,648

Plant-based dairy alternatives, excluding plant-based cheese: $1,671,554,563 + $165,750,957 + $112,384,210 + $159,318,518 + $76,884,648 = $2,185,892,896

Entering the previous and current market sizes in a CAGR calculator, we found that the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives, excluding plant-based cheese, is growing at a CAGR of 15.36%.

Grand View Research has also published a bar chart showing the actual and projected yearly size of the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives. Though the market research firm segments the market differently and not all values are displayed, we were able to estimate the projected 2019 and 2024 sizes of the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives through the following ratio and proportion calculations:

2019 market size: ($2.43 billion x 19.5 mm) / 12.5 mm = $3.5 billion
2024 market size: ($2.43 billion x 33.5 mm) / 12.5 mm = $6.5 billion

Plugging these market sizes in a CAGR calculator, we learned that the United States market for plant-based dairy alternatives, as defined by Grand View Research, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.18% during the period 2019-2024.


Part
03
of nine
Part
03

Plant-based Cheese Market - Market Drivers

The sales of plant-based cheese grew by 41% in August 2018, while the sales of regular dairy cheese in the same period were flat. Some factors responsible for the growing sales of plant-based proteins such as cheese include taste preference (52%), the perceived/assumed health benefits (46%), desire to consume less processed foods (39%) and the attempt to manage weight (31%), among other reasons. Recent USDA reports reveal that dairy product consumption across the United States has been declining for decades, as each generation consumes less milk than the previous generation.

MAJOR FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROWTH OF THE PLANT-BASED CHEESE MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES

TASTE

    • Plant-based foods items such as vegan cheese have enjoyed double-digit growth across the United States within the past few years. According to a Mintel survey, the taste is what makes a majority (52%) of American consumers consider purchasing plant-based foods (including cheese) over animal-based meals, and this is making inroads among consumers.
    • Another survey reported that Food Dive reports that taste affects the preference of 55% of Americans when choosing between plant-based and none plant-based cheese.
    • Most Americans who have consumed both animal and plant-based products reveal that they prefer that their plant-based products have the taste of animal-based products (real dairy.) Some brands have already improved on existing plant-based cheese products and develop new products which closely resemble/mimic the flavor and mouthfeel of actual dairy cheese.

    PERCEIVED/ASSUMED HEALTH BENEFITS

    • When opting for plant-based proteins (including plant-based cheese), the perceived/assumed health benefits influence 46% of consumers. About 46% of Americans agree that "plant-based proteins are better" for human consumption than animal-based options.
    • Only about 46% of Americans reveal that they trust "the functional claims made" by the producers of plant-based foods.
    • There is an increase in the popularity of vegan and other dairy-free diets, and numerous dairy-free cheese alternatives are now readily available. Vegans believe that eating plant-based products such as plant-based cheese gives someone several health benefits including lower levels of blood sugar, higher insulin sensitivity and approximately 50–78% lower risk for the development type 2 diabetes.

    DESIRE TO CONSUME LESS PROCESSED FOODS

    • The desire to consume less processed foods drives the sales/growth of plant-based proteins such as plant-based cheese as about 39% of Americans feel plant-based proteins are less processed.
    • People believe that minimally processed food is likely to offer a higher nutritional value on fiber, healthy fats, and other vital micro nutrients.
    • Minimally processed plant-based cheese options are more likely to be healthier when compared to "ultra-processed" products.

    ATTEMPT TO MANAGE WEIGHT

    • The attempt to manage weight (31%), is a significant factor that drives the sale of plant-based proteins such as plant-based cheese sales among Americans.
    • Additional to weight management, the desire to promote muscle growth (16%) is one factor that drives the sale of plant-based proteins (including plant-based cheese) across the United States.

    DESIRE TO CONSUME NO ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS

    • For grocery store customers, the desire to consume plant-based proteins that have no artificial ingredients are factors that motivate 41% of Americans to purchase plant-based products and drive sales for plant-based products, including plant-based cheese.
    • According to the Guardian, some plant-based cheese producers such as Riverdel difference themselves by using only natural ingredients which consists of butter beans, coconut oil, and potato starch.
    • According to Healthline, Vegan cheeses use a variety of plant-based ingredients and have a wide range of flavors.
    • Vegan diets (including vegan cheese or plant-based cheese) contains more vitamins and minerals than animal-based (omnivorous) food.

    BELIEF THAT PLANTS HAVE HIGH PROTEIN CONTENT/GROWING ACCEPTANCE OF VEGANISM

    • About 35% of American grocery store shoppers opt for plant-based proteins such as plant-based cheese because they feel plants are high in protein.
    • Vegan diets (including vegan cheese or plant-based cheese) are believed to have higher fiber contents when compared to animal-based products. The fiber content of these diets contribute to the optimal functioning of the gut and promote digestive health.
    • Vegans are increasing in number across the world, and the United States and their food options (plant-based) are also increasing. The Humane Society of the United States recently develop about 200 plant-based diets and added them to corporate food service menus and campus dining halls.

    LACTOSE-INTOLERANCE

    • About 35% of Americans who avoid dairy products (including all forms of cheese made from dairy milk) said they are lactose-intolerant, while 28% have dairy allergies. We have assumed that this is a significant driver of the growth of plant-based proteins, including plant-based cheese.
    • Millions of lactose intolerant Americans depend on plant-based products such as plant-based cheese for most of their protein requirements.
    • According to WebMD, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant and cannot digest the type of sugar found in milk and milk products known as lactose.

TYPE OF GROWTH PLANT-BASED CHEESE BRANDS HAVE SEEN WITHIN THE LAST YEAR

  • Some major dairy firms have recently invested in plant-based companies. Dean Foods' last year purchased minority stakes in Good Karma Foods, the manufacturer of non-dairy milk and yogurt products.
  • Finding appealing plant-based substitutes for dairy cheese has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks encountered by vegan diet seekers, and until recently, the vegan cheese options has left consumers quite disappointed. However, some brands have improved on existing plant-based cheese products and also develop new ones which closely resemble/mimic the flavor and mouthfeel of actual dairy cheese, and the sales of plant-based cheese have grown to reflect those changes.
  • To meet the rising demand for plant-based cheese, companies in the industry are expanding. Miyoko’s Kitchen located in Northern California recently (in 2018) expanded to a 29,000-sq-ft facility and can now handle up to 2,000lb per batch of nut cheese, while the Vancouver-based company Daiya is relocating to a manufacturing facility six times bigger than its current facility to keep up with sales, which skyrocketed from $17 million in 2012 to the current $127 million.
  • Several plant-based alternatives such as yogurt, nutritional powders, delicious dairy-free yogurt alternatives, and dairy-free cheese shreds have been developed in the United States following multi-million-dollar investments by leaders in the industry.

CHANGING CONSUMER PREFERENCES OFTEN AFFECT CHOICE BETWEEN PLANT-BASED and animal based

  • Both plant-based and animal-based (dairy-based) products are attracting a crossover audience (that have a continuously evolving consumer preference) due to some consumers who continue buying dairy and plant-based products based on the occasion, their changing taste and demands.
  • But some consumers reveal their desire to stay away from the consumption of growth hormones, saturated fat, as well as antibiotics found in traditional dairy. However, most consumers that have tried alternatives to dairy products reveal that they still prefer the taste of real dairy.
  • Some people that consume animal-based products often want to add plant-based alternatives to their diet.

FACTORS LIMITING THE GROWTH OF THE PLANT-BASED CHEESE MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES

  • Continuing diversification, innovation, emphasis on nutritional benefits as well as clean labels, are four factors that make consumers likely to opt for dairy or other animal-based products over plant-based products, including plant-based cheese.
  • Another recent survey reveals that about 55% of American consumers agree that the "taste of real dairy" is responsible for their choice of animal-based protein consumption when compared to plant-based proteins such as plant-based cheese. Some Americans think that consuming dairy alternatives (including cheese made from dairy alternatives such as plant-based) can be a gamble on nutrition.
  • The vegan cheese industry has seen an improvement in sales volume. However, it is still lagging behind several plant-based food sectors such as milk and meat due to the growing competition the industry has to contend with and the challenges that arise from the "exceedingly complex nature of cheese."
  • Some Americans (less than 46%) reveal that they trust the functional claims published by plant-based foods. We have assumed that the remaining 54% (calculated) who do not believe the substantive/functional claims made by plant-based diets are more likely to opt for alternatives.

METHODOLOGY

Our team scoured through survey reports, expert interviews, and credible food market analysis publications such as the United States Food Navigator web, the Guardian, among other resources for some major factors responsible for the growth or decline of the plant-based cheese market in the United States. Unfortunately, none of the uncovered resources comprehensively analyzed the actual factors accountable for the growth or decline of plant-based cheese across the United States. The United States Food Navigator web revealed that the sale of plant-based cheese was recently up by 43% but failed to account for factors leading to improved sales. Research for some challenges limiting the sales of plant-based cheese revealed through the Guardian web publication that plant-based cheese has some problems it is contending with, mainly due to the exceedingly "complex nature" of cheese. We assumed that the complex nature of cheese is limiting the sales of plant-based cheese because it is reported to be of exceeding significance though the resource revels no numeric statistics to back its claim. We assumed the data relevant to America (Northern California, Mexico, mainstream America) and a few other countries is reliable since the Guardian was recently named as the UK’s most trusted newspaper. The Guardian also revealed how some major plant-based cheese manufacturers are expanding to cope with increasing demands.

Further research through Food industry publications such as Food Dive, FoodBev, among other nutrition-based publications for the significant factors responsible for the growth or decline of the plant-based cheese market in the United States failed to uncover comprehensive statistics specific to plant-based cheese. Due to limited insights on this niche area, we studied for the significant factors responsible for the growth or decline of all plant-based products. We assumed that plant-based cheese, which is also a plant-based product is likely to be affected by factors that promote or limit the sales of all plant-based products. Insights obtained from Food Dive revealed that taste is the significant reason why about 52% of American consumers consider purchasing plant-based foods (including plant-based cheese). Statistics relevant to the perceived/assumed health benefits (46%), desire to consume less processed foods (39%) and the attempt to manage weight (31%), were also uncovered.

Research through credible databases such as the American FactFinder, USDA Food & Nutrient Databases, for hard statistics into drivers for the sales of plant-based cheese across the United States failed to uncover any useful statistics. A 2019 USDA Food Composition Database uncovered insights into the composition and nutritional benefits of several plant-based and animal-based diets including cheese, cheese flavors, etc., but did not reveal any preference for plant-based or animal-based cheese or proteins among Americans.

Further research through academic journals, scholarly articles from credible institutions such as educational publications of the College of Agricultural Sciences of the Pennsylvania State University, Scribd, ResearchGate and Sage journals among other publications for the factors responsible for the growth or decline of the plant-based cheese market in the United States also failed to uncover useful statistics. We then researched for factors affecting the cheese-eating pattern of Americans to know why they prefer either plant-based or animal-based cheese as a triangulation attempt, but this was futile. The Pennsylvania State University article on health, nutrition, and "Selecting Cheese for Health," advised Americans to opt for cheese that complies with a "healthy eating pattern" for their dietary needs. This article failed to uncover what cheese is preferred by Americans (plant-based or animal-based) nor factors of preference. Due to limited availability of information specific to plant-based cheese, we have relied on the statistics which define the major factors responsible for the growth or decline of the plant-based products over animal-based products to infer why plant-based cheese is experiencing sales growth across the United States. We have depended on the number of people affected by a factor where available to determine that it is a significant (major) factor responsible for the growth or decline of the plant-based cheese market in the United States. We researched through published research studies published by credible resources such as SmartBrief and several other studies for the various benefits of consuming plant-based products. Insights uncovered from Smartbrief revealed that most lactose-intolerant vegans have long benefited from plant-based products such as plant-based cheese.
Part
04
of nine
Part
04

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Market Drivers

According to our findings, the major factors that are responsible for the growth of the plant-based dairy alternatives market in the United States include increased investment in the market, changing consumer preferences towards healthier, more sustainable products, new product launches within the market, increased competition in the market, and increasing food allergies and sensitivities. A detailed look at each of the identified factor follows below.

INCREASED INVESTMENT IN THE MARKET

  • As consumers continue to seek "healthy, sustainable plant-based alternatives to conventional staples like milk, financial firms are hoping to cash in on the trend."
  • The increased investment into the American plant-based dairy alternatives market can be attributed to the improved performance of the market.
  • For instance, Plant Based Foods Association data that was compiled by Nielsen showed that the sale of plant-based milk beverages rose by 9% in the year before June 2018. This represented growth from 3% that was recorded in the previous year.
  • Generally, plant-based foods experienced a growth of 20% to $3.3 billion in 2018 as per Nielsen data. In 2017, the market only experienced an 8% overall growth.
  • The above encouraging performance of market led to increased investment in the sector from firms like Ambrosia Investments, which was at the forefront of raising $50 million for plant-based beverages firm, Califia Farms in mid-2018.
  • Other examples of investment in the sector include California-based coconut milk drink maker, REBBL that raised $20 million in funding from firms that were led by CAVU Venture Partners in May 2018 and California-based milk and yogurt alternatives maker, Ripple Foods that raised a total of $110 million in a Series C capital round in early 2018 that was led by Euclidean Capital, Goldman Sachs, and Fall Line Capital.

CHANGING CONSUMER PREFERENCES

NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES IN THE MARKET

INCREASED COMPETITION IN THE MARKET

INCREASING FOOD ALLERGIES AND SENSITIVITIES

  • Food allergies and sensitivities such as lactose intolerance are also a major factor in the growth of the plant-based dairy alternatives market.
  • According to statistical data, an estimated 30-50 million Americans suffer from lactose intolerance.
  • The growing population segment of people with lactose intolerance and milk allergies is another major factor for the growth of the plant-based dairy alternatives market.
  • This is because the lactose intolerant and vegan populations form the largest consumer base of plant-based dairy alternatives and an increase in their numbers results in higher demand for dairy-free alternatives leading to market growth.

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

Because a precompiled list of the major factors that are responsible for the growth/decline of the plant-based dairy alternatives market in the U.S. was unavailable in the public domain, we used the available market analysis reports, news article, press releases, and industry reports to develop a list of five major market drivers of the American plant-based dairy alternatives market. In some instances, we employed the use of triangulation techniques to identify major factors that were embedded under information on the dairy alternatives market of the United States.
Part
05
of nine
Part
05

Plant-based Cheese Market - Top Players

The top five manufacturers of plant-based cheese brands in the United States (U.S.) by revenue are Field Roast, So Delicious Dairy Free, Kite Hill, Go Veggie! Foods, and Follow Your Heart. The details for these manufacturers are below.

FIELD ROAST

  • Field Roast's annual revenue is approximately $45.96 million.
  • It is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.
  • Field Roast is the "original maker of grain meats," but expanded to plant-based cheeses that are manufactured using "traditional cheese-making practices" in 2015.
  • In June 2018, Field Roast paired up with distribution company Essen Foods to import and distribute its plant-based products, including its cheeses across Australia and New Zealand.
  • In June 2019, Field Roast partnered with Pizza Hut Canada to produce its first-ever plant-based pizza.
  • Also in June 2019, Field Roast began offering its plant-based cheeses at 330 Walmarts across Canada.
  • In May 2019, Field Roast's Chao Creamy Original cheese slices began being offered by Dot Foods, "the largest food service redistribution company in the United States."
  • In 2017, co-founder and CEO David Lee stated that Field Roast was growing at a rate of 40% — 50% per year in both conventional and natural channels.
  • In November 2017, Canadian food company Maple Leaf Foods purchased Field Roast for $120 million.
  • In June 2018, Field Roast announced that it had seen an "81% surge in sales" over June 2017.

SO DELICIOUS DAIRY FREE

  • So Delicious Dairy Free has an annual revenue of about $39 million.
  • It is headquartered in Springfield, Oregon.
  • In operation for more than 30 years, So Delicious Dairy Free has been offering plant-based cheese, ice cream, yogurts, and creamers in an attempt to "take dairy-free options beyond the milk aisle."
  • All products offered by So Delicious Dairy Free are certified vegan and the company is Non-GMO Project Verified.
  • So Delicious Shreds were introduced in August 2017 and included Cheddar, Mozzarella and Cheddar Jack varieties.
  • In 2014, vice president of marketing and R&D Mike Murray stated that in the previous four or five years, the company had seen "phenomenal growth" and his belief at the time was that "dairy free is one of, if not the biggest growth opportunity in food."
  • In addition, So Delicious Dairy Free held a unique position in the market due to its "strong connections with consumers via social media and its focus on organic and non-GMO."
  • Danone, So Delicious Dairy Free's parent company, has embraced plant-based alternatives and in February 2019, announced that it intended to ramp up plant-based production to increase "three times by 2025."

KITE HILL

  • Kite Hill, also known as Lyrical Foods, has an estimated annual revenue of $19.8 million.
  • It is headquartered in Hayward, California.
  • Founding chef Tal Ronnen started Kite Hill in 2008 to help show the world that "plant-based eating could be truly delicious."
  • Kite Hill's first product line of soft fresh and soft ripened cheeses debuted at Whole Foods stores in 2014.
  • Cream cheese-style spreads joined Kite Hill's product lineup in 2015.
  • In October 2018, Kite Hill closed a $40 million funding round from 301 INC, the venture arm for General Mills. This was in addition to a $16 million funding round from 301 INC in 2016.
  • CEO Rob Leibowitz stated that "the company has roughly doubled [revenue] each year and expects to continue on this path in the coming year (2019)... We expect capacity to expand 2x to 3x in the near term."
  • In addition, Leibowitz indicated the company would be "investing 'substantially' in factory capacity expansion while continuing to drive product innovation forward."

GO VEGGIE! FOODS

  • Go Veggie! Foods was recently purchased by GreenSpace Brands, but its approximate annual revenue before acquisition was $16.3 million.
  • Its headquarters is in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
  • The company's mission is to produce plant-based cheeses that "deliver all the cheesy goodness... without the downside." It aims to offer products with "more calcium, equivalent protein, less fat and less calories compared to ordinary cheese."
  • Founded in 1972, Go Veggie! Foods, which was then known as Galaxy Nutritional Foods, offered the "first low fat, cholesterol and lactose free cheese alternative at a time when cheese free products were unheard of."
  • The company continued to meet the growing demands for plant-based cheeses, having been the first to offer a soy-free rice-based line of cheeses and "pareve kosher, 100% dairy free individually wrapped cheese slices" in 1995.
  • Under CEO Brian O’ Farrell since 2009, Go Veggie! has continued to expand its lactose free and vegan product lines as consumer demand for plant-based diets has grown. It now offers 53 Lactose Free, Lactose & Soy Free and Dairy Free & Vegan products throughout the U.S. and Canada.
  • As of the date of GreenSpace Brands' acquisition of Go Veggie! in 2018, the company had distribution in over 12,000 locations, most of which were in "major U.S. grocery retailers and natural food chains."
  • Moreover, the company's food service line of business was also growing at that time and Go Veggie! had established itself as "one of the preeminent brands in the space with some of the best tasting and award-winning products."
  • Also at the time of acquisition, Go Veggie! had "strong gross profit margins of approximately 40%."

FOLLOW YOUR HEART

  • Follow Your Heart has an estimated annual revenue of $15 million.
  • Its headquarters is located in Canoga Park, California.
  • Having gotten its start as a soup and sandwich shop in 1970, Follow Your Heart is now an "internationally available brand of plant-based foods" with over 60 plant-based products in 25,000 retail locations across more than 25 countries.
  • Follow Your Heart products are all sustainable, plant-based, and non-GMO, and are manufactured in a "state-of-the-art, solar-powered" facility called Earth Island.
  • The company believes that plant-based diets are not just a fad and that as more consumers realize the benefits of eating plant-based foods, they will "continue to grow and become mainstream."
  • Follow Your Heart is the "market leader in Egg-free Mayo and Non-dairy sliced cheeses," but the company also makes "vegan cheese for pizzas and pastas, a line of creamy, salad dressings, dairy-free yogurts, cream cheese, and sour cream alternatives and even a VeganEgg® product which replaces scrambled eggs."
  • According to DairyFoods.com, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese slices reported a 62.1% year-over-year increase in unit sales between January 2018 and January 2019.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To find the top manufacturers of plant-based cheese in the U.S., we began by searching through industry publications and websites such as Vegan.com, Plant-Based Foods.org, OneGreenPlanet.org, and VegNews, among others. This led us first to the list of plant-based cheese members of the Plant-Based Cheese Association. We assumed that major players in the industry would belong to this organization, so we use this list as a starting point for our research. However, revenues were not attached to this list. We searched for other publicly available lists and came up with several more companies that were not a part of the Plant-Based Cheese Association. Unfortunately, none of these lists had revenues attached either.

Our next strategy was to search through market research reports from Variant Market Research, Mordor Intelligence, Market Watch, and Value Market Research, among others. We hoped to find a breakdown of top players by market share so we could then research the revenues of just the known top manufacturers. In the free parts of these reports, we found a breakdown of the market by plant-based cheese source; the market shares of global regions; major global players (without revenues or market shares); and market size, drivers, and challenges. While we verified that the top companies listed in these reports were the same companies found in our first strategy, we still did not find revenues or market shares for any of them.

As such, we decided that we were unlikely to find a publicly available list of plant-based cheese manufacturers that included revenues. So, we decided to compile our list of manufacturers, weed out any that are not based in the United States (Daiya) or have been closed (Punk Rawk Labs), and then search separately for their revenues. During our search for these revenues, we discovered that of the companies listed, only Tofutti is public. This means that only Tofutti is required to publish revenue information. In addition, we found that many companies were subsidiaries of larger corporations, which means their revenues are not always published independently from the parent company.

To find the revenues of these companies, we first searched in reputable industry and media articles such as Forbes, Food Navigator, Entrepreneur, Inc., Food Dive, MediaPost, and Bloomberg. Our intention was to find quotes from company executives that would provide an accurate revenue figure rather than relying on business reporting databases. Unfortunately, for x, y, and z companies, we were unable to find any recent articles that provided insights into their revenues. For these companies, we turned to the aforementioned business reporting databases including Hoovers, Manta, Crunchbase, and Owler. It is important to note that these numbers are just estimates and may vary slightly from the reported numbers. Moreover, most companies produce other products in addition to cheese, which means their revenues are not strictly for their plant-based cheese products. Due to the fact that all companies except Tofutti are private, a breakdown of revenue according to product segment was not available.

We excluded any company for which a revenue was not available through any of these strategies and sources, as our assumption was that major players' revenues would be found using at least one of these strategies. Once all we had identified the revenues for as many companies as possible, we ranked them one through five based on their most recent revenue numbers. For added benefit, below are the remaining U.S.-based companies that produce plant-based cheese for which we were able to find revenues.


After finding the revenues and ranking the companies, we used reputable media sources and industry publications such as those mentioned above to provide an overview of each company, including any available information on its size and growth over the past few years.
Part
06
of nine
Part
06

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Top Players

Five of the top plant-based dairy alternative manufacturers in the United States by revenue include So Delicious Dairy Free, Califia Farms, Ripple Foods, Kite Hill, and Perfect Day.

SO DELICIOUS DAIRY FREE

  • While the company is private, they generate an estimated $39 million annual revenue.
  • The company was founded in 1987 and currently has 51-100 employees.
  • In 2014, the company was acquired by WhiteWave Foods for $195 million.
  • Because the company is private, they have not released any growth metrics publicly through press releases, company reports, company profiles, or news publications.

CALIFIA FARMS

  • While the company is private, they generate an estimated $7.7 million annual revenue.
  • According to Forbes, the company was one of the most invested in companies for dairy alternatives in 2018.
  • The company was founded in 2010 and currently has 101-250 employees.
  • To date, the company has participated in three funding rounds gaining $115 million in investments.
  • Because the company is private, they have not released any growth metrics publicly through press releases, company reports, company profiles, or news publications.

RIPPLE FOODS

  • While the company is private, they generate an estimated $3.5 million annual revenue.
  • According to Forbes, the company was one of the most invested in companies for dairy alternatives in 2018.
  • The company was founded in 2014 and currently has 11-50 employees.
  • To date, the company has participated in three funding rounds gaining $108.6 million in investments.
  • Because the company is private, they have not released any growth metrics publicly through press releases, company reports, company profiles, or news publications.

KITE HILL

  • While the company is private, they generate an estimated $3.5 million annual revenue.
  • According to Forbes, the company was one of the most invested in companies for dairy alternatives in 2018.
  • The company was founded in 2013 and currently has 11-50 employees.
  • To date, the company has participated in three funding rounds gaining $65.5 million in investments.
  • Because the company is private, they have not released any growth metrics publicly through press releases, company reports, company profiles, or news publications.

PERFECT DAY

  • While the company is private, they generate an estimated $3 million annual revenue.
  • According to Forbes, the company was one of the most invested in companies for dairy alternatives in 2018.
  • The company was founded in 2014 and is currently in 51-100 employees.
  • To date, the company has participated in four funding rounds gaining $61.5 million in investments.
  • Because the company is private, they have not released any growth metrics publicly through press releases, company reports, company profiles, or news publications.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

In order to determine the top five manufacturers of plant-based dairy alternatives in the United States, we began our search by scouring news publications for mentions of high revenue companies in the industry. According to Forbes, dairy alternatives was one of the top invested in industries in 2018. Due to this, the top companies were readily available. To confirm that these were the top companies by revenue, we scoured company profiles on sites like Crunchbase, Hoovers, and Pitchbook. Through this search we were able to confirm company revenues as well as scour their competitors' profiles to confirm that they did not compare in revenue or match plant-based offerings. Finally, we were able to compile the above list.

Additionally, we scoured company reports, company profiles, news publications, and press releases for any information regarding growth over the last few years. Unfortunately, because all of the companies are private, none of them provide this information to the public.

We began by scouring company press releases and reports for any voluntarily released information regarding growth percentages over the last few years. However, this search provided no results. We then scoured company profiles on sites like Crunchbase, Hoovers, and Pitchbook. The goal was to obtain the estimated revenue data over the last few years to calculate growth. This search, however, did not provide any additional data.

Finally, we scoured news publications for any mention of growth for each company over the last few years. We were able to find mentions of the companies maintaining investments in 2018. These companies included Califia Farms, Ripple Foods, Kite Hills, and Perfect Day. Through these mentions we can assume that the companies are experiencing growth, however, no specific data was available. Additionally, we found mention for So Delicious Dairy Free products maintaining growth over the last few years, specifically in the oatmilk dessert category. While we can assume that the company is maintaining growth based on these findings, there was no conclusive data available.

Part
07
of nine
Part
07

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Motivating Factors

Flavor, health consciousness, the flexitarian diet, animal rights and environmental issues, lactose intolerance, dairy sensitivity or allergy, and the avoidance of growth hormones and antibiotics in dairy are seven major factors motivating consumers in the United States to seek and purchase plant-based dairy alternative products.

FLAVOR

  • Forty-eight percent of consumers in the United States buy plant-based dairy alternatives because they like the flavor or taste of these products better.
  • In another survey, 52% of consumers in the United States eat or drink plant-based protein for its taste or flavor. In this survey, flavor outranks health (39%), environment (13%), and animal protection (11%) as purchase driver.

HEALTH CONSCIOUSNESS

  • For 36% of consumers in the United States who regularly consumer plant-based dairy alternatives, health benefits are "a key purchase driver."
  • In the United States, older consumers are more likely to avoid dairy for nutritional reasons (e.g., calorie or cholesterol reduction).
  • Twenty-four percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy to reduce their saturated fat consumption.
  • Twenty-three percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy because they are "cutting back on dairy with age."
  • Health benefits are the leading purchase driver in the plant-based yogurt category (45%) and the second leading purchase driver in the plant-based frozen desserts category (38%).
  • Sixty-two percent of exclusive plant-based milk shoppers cite nutrition as an important purchase driver. Digestive benefits, health, and longer shelf life are important purchase drivers as well.
  • Most consumers view plant-based milk as having more or the same amount of nutrients and protein as dairy milk.
  • When purchasing plant-based dairy alternatives, consumers in the United States consider whether the product is natural (46%), high in vitamins or minerals (43%), high in protein (42%), and organic (33%).
  • They also consider the ingredient source (33%) and the all-natural credentials of the product (30%).

FLEXITARIAN DIET

  • The "flexitarian" diet is being pursued by consumers who "want to incorporate more plant-based options in their diets, but are unwilling to give up animal proteins altogether."
  • No more than 15% of consumers in the United States identify as vegetarian or vegan, but more and more consumers are pursuing a "lessitarian" or "flexitarian" diet.
  • Approximately 25% of the population in the United States indicates that they are consciously cutting back on animal-based food and beverage consumption.

ANIMAL RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

  • Twenty percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy due to animal rights or cruelty issues.
  • Fifteen percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy due to environmental reasons.
  • In the United States, younger consumers are more likely to avoid dairy due to animal rights issues or environmental issues.
  • Sixty-one percent of consumers reducing their meat consumption believe that people should cut down meat consumption for sustainability purposes.

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

  • Thirty-five percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy because they are lactose intolerant.
  • In the United States, 38% of women versus 28% of men avoid dairy because of lactose intolerance.

DAIRY SENSITIVITY OR ALLERGY

  • Twenty-eight percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy because of a dairy sensitivity or allergy.
  • In the United States, 35% of women versus 14% of men avoid dairy because of a dairy sensitivity or allergy.

AVOIDANCE OF GROWTH HORMONES AND ANTIBIOTICS IN DAIRY

  • Twenty-four percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy because it may contain growth hormones.
  • In the United States, 29% of women versus 14% of men avoid dairy because it may contain growth hormones.
  • Eighteen percent of consumers in the United States avoid dairy because of the potential presence of antibiotics in dairy.


Part
08
of nine
Part
08

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Top Products

Top plant-based alternative products in the US that have experienced the most sales are milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese and creamer respectively. Top products that are experiencing the fastest sales growth are yogurt, cheese, ice cream, dressings, and butter respectively. These top growing products as a category are showing an immense growth of 50%

TOP PRODUCTS THAT EXPERIENCED THE MOST SALES IN THE YEAR 2018 (US)

TOP PRODUCTS EXPERIENCING THE FASTEST SALES GROWTH IN THE US

RESEARCH STRATEGY

Based on the topic, we looked into the products that have gained most sales when it came to plant-based alternatives. We found a report that the Plant-Based Foods Association has commissioned from Nielsen which shows the current top-selling products and also the fastest-growing products in the plant-based food category.

Part
09
of nine
Part
09

Plant-based Dairy Alternatives - Purchasing Habits and Barriers

The perception of not being as satisfying as full-dairy products, taste, and higher prices have been enumerated as barriers in purchasing dairy alternative products.

BARRIERS OR CHALLENGES OF PLANT-BASED DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

  • The consumers who buy both dairy and plant-based products or only dairy products prefer calcium, vitamins, and minerals as opposed to overall health as per the survey conducted by IPSOS.
  • According to the Milk Means More organization, "the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods per day as part of the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern for people nine years and older. Alternative beverages, other than soy beverages fortified with calcium, vitamin A and D, are not included in the dairy group because 'their overall nutritional content is not similar to dairy milk and fortified soy beverages,' the DGA states."
  • Apart from the perception of not being as satisfying as full-dairy products, taste and higher prices are considered barriers in purchasing dairy alternative products as per the survey conducted by Cargill.


HOW OFTEN DO CONSUMERS BUY AND CONSUME PLANT-BASED DAIRY PRODUCTS IN THE US?

  • Only 5% of respondents of the IPSOS survey purchased only plant-based milk in the past 6 months.
  • As per findings by IPSOS survey, 48% of respondents have purchased both plant-based and dairy milk in the past 6 months.
  • While 26% of respondents of the IPSOS survey consume both types of milks, only 12% were found to be plant-based-only consumers in the past 6 months.
  • Plant-based milk comprises approximately 9% of total milk sales in the US.


RESEARCH STRATEGY:

In order to identify the major barriers or challenges consumers of plant-based dairy alternatives generally encounter when purchasing the product, we commenced our research with reports, studies, and surveys published by websites that cover content based on food and dairy consumption. Unfortunately, the sources only reflected the growth and motivating factors for consumers. Some challenges were enumerated by surveys conducted by IPSOS and Cargill. No additional studies were conducted to corroborate those findings.

Our second strategy was to look for different types of non-dairy products like almond, soy, coconut, oat, rice, and hemp dairy alternatives and the barriers or challenges for each product individually. The idea was to find relevant reports and articles on the retail end of the industry because the majority of consumers are more likely to purchase plant dairy alternatives from various retail channels. We, therefore, scoured through websites which specialize in publishing retail industry articles and reports, searching both industry associations and publications. Though we were able to find the products' availability and growth in the US market, the barriers they usually encounter when purchasing were not available.

Our third strategy was to search through news and media articles to see whether the challenges encountered by consumers of plant-based dairy alternatives were covered by media. While the sources talked about growth in demand for dairy alternatives, the challenges faced by farmers due to their growth, and why people increasingly prefer dairy alternative products over dairy products, they did not address the barriers this industry must contend with.

Our fourth and last approach was to use GlobeNews Market Report to identify the market leaders in the dairy alternatives market. The report identified Whitewave Foods, Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Blue Diamond Growers, SunOpta Inc., and New Barn as companies in the US. However, the detailed report (which might enumerate barriers consumers encounter when purchasing dairy alternatives) was locked behind a paywall. We further scoured through the websites, press releases, annual/investor reports, company blogs, and other publicly available resources of these market leaders to identify major barriers or challenges of plant-based dairy alternatives generally encountered by their consumers. However, the reports we found only focused on the growth in demand, product lines, competitive advantages over their competitors, and other information that was not helpful in deriving the challenges faced by the consumers of dairy alternative products.

As per the research conducted, any and all surveys studies conducted pertaining to the consumption and purchase of plant-based dairy alternatives only focuses on its positive aspects and the drivers/motivating factors behind the consumption of these products.
Sources
Sources

From Part 03
Quotes
  • "Beyond corporates, venture capital firms and accelerators are also funding research and development into these high-tech foods. Biotech accelerator IndieBio has placed many bets in animal-free foods, with notable investments in Memphis Meats, New Wave Foods, and Finless Foods, as well as startups focusing on dairy and gelatin substitutes."
Quotes
  • "Danone North America has opened a new building at its DuBois, Pennsylvania, facility to increase production of its plant-based foods. Following a multi-million-dollar investment, the facility will now produce Vega yogurt alternatives and nutritional powders, as well as Silk yogurt alternatives and So Delicious Dairy Free yogurt alternatives and dairy-free cheese shreds."
Quotes
  • "Exclusive: Impossible Foods raises $300 million with investors eager for bite of meatless burgers"
Quotes
  • "Finding satisfying plant-based replacements for dairy cheese often arises as one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the path to going vegan, and until recent years the vegan cheeese options often left consumers disappointed. That’s changing as brands continue to improve existing products and develop new ones that come closer than ever before to replicating the flavor and mouthfeel of dairy cheese, and sales trends reflect those changes."
From Part 05