Summary of our market study

French plant milk market valued at €190 million

The global plant-based milk market is showing robust growth, with a forecast CAGR of 11.4%, and will be worth $21.5 billion by 2020. Asia-Pacific is the dominant region in this market, thanks in part to the local availability of the raw materials soy and rice.

In France, the market is enjoying strong growth of around 19% a year, reflecting the changing consumption habits of the French.

Almond and soy milks are the biggest sellers on the French market. Organic products account for around 80% of total sales in France.

Regulatory changes in the EU have prohibited plant-based alternatives from using dairy terminology such as "milk", "cream" or "butter", unless specific exceptions are made.

The main companies in this segment are Bjorg, with sales of 372 million euros, Alpro, with 522 million euros, and traditional milk producers such as Danone and Sodiaal.

Growth in plant-based alternatives to milk

Changing consumer habits in France have been one of the driving forces behind the growth of this market, with increased interest in organic and dietary products and their widespread availability in mainstream supermarkets and hypermarkets.

Almond milk and soya milk top the sales charts.

The growing importance of alternative milk consumption makes it a powerful competitor to traditional cow's milk, whose penetration rate among the French population fell slightly from 97.3% to 96.5%.

The share of plant milk among alternative milks fell slightly, from 28% to 23%, while the proportion of French people who consume it rose from 38% to 51%.

France is also a major exporter, with exports of almost 160 million products worth some 92.1 million euros, and a substantial trade surplus.

Over half of consumers of alternative milks eat them for breakfast.

Consumers believe that plant milks offer similar nutrients to traditional milk.

Key players such as Bjorg and Alpro dominate the market, with a combined market share of close to 80%, and private labels account for 29% of market sales.

Plant milk market players

  • Bjorg: pioneer of organic plant milks
    Alpro: specialist in plant-based products acquired by Danone
  • Danone: world-renowned for its traditional dairy products
  • Sodiaal: dairy giant embraces plant-based innovations
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Introduction and market definition

Vegetable (or plant) milk is a drink that is visually very similar to traditional milk, but often has a different taste and texture. This is linked to its production method, which is mainly based on the processing of plants, including:

  • Oleaginous (almonds, hazelnuts...);
  • Pulses (soybean...);
  • Cereals (wheat, rice...).

There are several reasons for consuming vegetable milk: its impact on the health of consumers is limited, especially for people with lactose intolerance, and it fits perfectly into diets such as veganism.

Boosted by an ever-increasing number of consumers, the vegetable milk market has been experiencing particularly strong growth for the past ten years or so, although it remains concentrated in the hands of a few players (Bjorg, Alpro, Bonnaterre).

However, the latter must continue to adapt to consumer trends, which can put certain players in difficulty (like Lima), and to innovate in order to develop products to address smaller consumers who are more sensitive to the nutritional quality of the products they buy. Moreover, the product offering is continously becoming more saturated which makes it more difficult for players to position themselves in a spot where sales are predictable. 

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Distribution of the vegetable milk market by world region
  • Expected average annual growth rates for different types of plant milk
  • Global vegetable milk market
  • Évolution de la taille du marché du lait végétal
  • Répartition des ventes de lait végétal, par type
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Latest news

Danone opens a second plant for plant-based products in France - 12/02/2024
  • Danone inaugurates a new plant dedicated to the manufacture of dairy alternatives in France
  • Danone has completely converted its Villecomtal-sur-Arros yogurt plant in the Gers department into a unit dedicated to Alpro-brand plant-based beverages. 43 million euros of investment
  • Production, mainly of oat juice cartons, is 90% destined for Europe.
  • Danone now has four milk-alternative production units in Europe. Two in France, at Issenheim and Villecomtal in the Gers region, one in Sweden, at Lunnarp, and the fourth at Wevelgem in Belgium.
  • Vegetable-based products have become "a strategic focus" for the world's number one in ultra-fresh products.
  • Danone took the t turn in 2017 with the $12.5 billion acquisition of US group WhiteWave.
  • In France, ultra-fresh products are deeply rooted in diets.
  • Plant milk accounts for just 4% of the traditional dairy products market by volume and 7.4% by value.
  • The plant-based milk market is worth 165 million euros, according to FranceAgriMer.
  • More than 6 out of ten people in France in the 18-24 age bracket eat plant-based products several times a week, according to lDanone
  • Many dairy groups, including Triballat, Nestlé and Bel, have chosen to develop plant-based ranges.
  • Retail chains are present under their own brands (MDD).
Danone sells its US organic dairy business to Platinum Equity - 02/01/2024
  • Danone has signed an agreement to sell its US organic dairy business to Platinum Equity.
  • The sale concerns the Horizon Organic and Wallaby businesses.
  • By 2022, Horizon Organic and Wallaby represented around 3% of Danone's total sales.
Danone finds buyers for its two organic brands in the United States - 02/01/2024
  • Platinum Equity's portfolio of assets totals $47 billion.
  • The two brands Horizon Organic and Wallaby accounted for around 3% of Danone's sales in 2022, or $800 million.
  • Dairy products make up a large part of Danone's sales.
  • Danone has sold various parts of its business in different countries, including yoghurts in China and fresh dairy products in Brazil.
  • Danone recorded eight quarters of growth thanks to price increases, although volumes remained stable.
  • Danone succeeded in halting a steady decline in dairy sales that had lasted since 2015.
Danone, Antoine de Saint-Affrique's silent revolution - 26/09/2023
  • Investment of 50 million euros in medical nutrition plant in Opole, Poland.
  • Danone sales of 27.7 billion euros.
  • Sales growth from 2.5% to 3% on average per year (before Covid) to 7% to 8% by mid-2023.
  • Groupe Danone employs around 100,000 people.
  • Disposal of certain non-strategic activities (Vega, Horizon Organic and Wallaby in North America, Aqua d'Or waters in Denmark, etc.).
Danone: Efforts Rewarded - 26/07/2023
  • Danone's net income for the first half of fiscal 2023 jumped 48% to over €1 billion.
  • In Spain, Danone reduced the number of brands from 13 to 5.
  • Danone's operations in Russia were expropriated by the Kremlin in July 2023
  • The group had estimated losses linked to the departure from Russia at 1 billion euros.
  • 15% volume-driven growth for Mizone water in China.
  • Counter-performance: plant-based products in North America
Danone, collateral victim of Vladimir Putin's new hard line - 17/07/2023
  • Two major European groups, Danone and Carlsberg, were engaged in discussions to sell their Russian operations.
  • They were surprised by a Russian presidential decree that transferred most of their Russian assets to the state agency, Rosimushestvo
  • Danone had planned to sell 12 of its dairy and plant-based products plants in Russia, while retaining a plant dedicated to infant nutrition.
  • President Putin issued decrees earlier that tightened national control over Western assets sold in Russia, including eliminating foreign shareholders from buyers.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Danone Groupe
Bjorg (Ecotone)
Nutrition et Santé -Soy
Alpro (Promavel)
Biolait
Oatly
Carrefour Bio

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