Soya suppliers have spotted the potential beyond 'milk', and are turning to non-traditional soya products to develop interest, with considerable success.

Sales of soya yoghurts are up 27% to £18.9m and they now form the second-biggest sub-sector in the category [TNS]. Sales of soya cream are up 16% to £1.2m, and while this is the smallest sub-sector, interest has been strong enough for Alpro to develop its first alternative to dairy single cream, due to be launched in the next 12 months.

Alpro and So Good are battling for the low-fat pound, too. "We have to benchmark ourselves against the healthy dairy market, and we're a bit behind the likes of Danone Activia," says Alpro commercial director John Allaway. "Our answer is to communicate our low-fat lines this year. Our top line is about low-fat fat, keeping it simple."

A TV ad campaign, inviting consumers to make their bodies better places to live, has been supporting the brand this year.

So Good has taken a similar tack. It ran a TV ad in August last year and again in January, emphasising the fat-free credentials of the product.

"People are so much more wary of fat these days so our main focus is on innovation and we recently launched the market's first fat-free alternative to skimmed milk - So Good Fat Free," says MD Daniel Derrick.

Soya Health Foods, however, has been exploring alternative avenues. The company has spent the past 18 months creating soya products that don't curdle in hot drinks - a perennial problem for soya manufacturers.

"It took a long time to crack but the solution proved to be relatively simple in the end," says Robin Gleave, marketing director.

Though the entire range is now produced using the technology, Sunrise Café Expert was launched in February specifically for foodservice to use in tea and coffee. However, there has also been interest from retailers, which has come "as a surprise".

More predictable, says Gleave, may be the opportunity for soya breakfast bars, which are already big business in the US.

"We're currently working on some innovation with soya breakfast bars and have a range of three bars ready for launch, initially into independents, in the near future. We're trying very hard not to be a one-trick pony."

Such innovation will help to attract consumers who wouldn't normally gravitate to soya, and in turn bring the 2012 target of 20% penetration into reach. Breaking into the mock meat market would be a huge step in the right direction, but this is currently proving difficult for manufacturers.n