TNS says there was an overall increase in the sales of the soya category, including milk, yoghurts, dessert and cream by 26.5% year on year (52 w/e January 2, 2005 compared with 52 w/e January 1, 2006). However, the biggest sector remains soya milk, which grew in value by 28.9% for the same period.
Waitrose puts the growth in the soya sector down to the development of soya drinks with better taste, growth helped by improvement in the quality of products such as Alpro, it says.
Sainsbury’s health brand manager Kristi Knowles agrees that soya milk has shown growth recently, and believes that people are switching because of lifestyle choice rather than due to allergies. It seems that many consumers are new to the sector. Research by soya brand So Good says some 45% of soya milk consumers had only come to the sector in the previous 12 months.
Allan Staples, MD at So Good, says: “The market now sells more than one million packs per week and it is still growing. We estimate that every 1% of dairy consumers that convert to soya would add a further £15m to UK retailers’ profits annually.”
Product innovation is also growing the category. Alpro has introduced Soya & Fruit, combining soya milk and fruit juice. Last year it launched the first chilled unsweetened soya milk, Soya Light, with 1.2% fat and added calcium and vitamins.