GLOBAL – As the plant-based milk market continues to flourish, brands are focusing on fortification to address nutritional gaps and enhance the appeal of their products.

A 2023 study revealed that only 12% of milk alternatives in the US provided a comparable amount of essential nutrients found in dairy milk, raising concerns about the nutritional adequacy of plant-based options.

Consumer confusion regarding the nutritional differences between dairy and plant-based alternatives has prevailed in the recent period, according to a US health professionals’ study.

An ongoing investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority into rising infant formula prices has also underscored the need for improvements in the nutritional value of plant-based alternatives.

Brands are responding by leveraging fortification to bridge these gaps. In the US, Califia Farms introduced “Complete,” a plant-based milk claiming nutritional comparability to dairy milk.

The product includes essential nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamins A, D, and B12, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and riboflavin.

In the UK, Arla Foods UK is relaunching its JÖRĐ plant-based milk alternatives under the Arla brand with added health benefits.

The fortified range includes vitamin D, folic acid, and fiber, addressing specific nutritional needs. Arla emphasized that while plant-based products won’t replace dairy nutrition, they aim to fill gaps in the market by offering essential nutrients in a single product.

The move towards fortification is not new, with other brands like Alpro, Oatly, and Mighty already having fortified plant-based alternatives in their portfolios.

Danone, the owner of Alpro, reported growth in the Essential Dairy and Plantbased business, with Alpro driving this growth. Oatly also fortifies its range with vitamin B2, calcium, and vitamin D.

Despite these efforts, opportunities for innovation in plant-based milks still exist. Manufacturers are urged to explore less commonly-found nutrients and introduce new ‘source of’ claims.

Meanwhile, researchers are exploring breakthroughs like enzymatic solutions to create fiber-rich milk products without traditional fortification.

According to the study, this innovation aligns with the foundational drivers behind consumer purchasing behavior, focusing on taste, price, and convenience.

It also highlighted that as the plant-based milk market continues to evolve, addressing nutritional concerns and fortifying products could play a crucial role in meeting consumer expectations and further expanding the appeal of these alternatives.

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