AFBR has the opportunity to interview Lee Jie Ying, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager, Plant-based Marketing of Kerry APMEA to gain in-depth insights on the latest development within the non-dairy plant-based milk alternative space, as well as to find out what Kerry can offer to manufacturers that are keen to venture into this fast-growing segment.

The following are excerpts from the interview with her.


What is the future of dairy substitute (milk alternative) beverages in the Asia Pacific region and do you see any recent trends and innovations relating to this category?

According to a Euromonitor report, more than half of consumers around the world associate plant-based milk as being nutritious, and product launches with plant protein claims are up by 21%. In Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA), the plant-based market is projected to hit a CAGR of 9.22%.

This interest in plant-based is primarily due to 2 drivers: a rising consumer group, the flexitarian, who enjoy both plant- and animal-based products, and lactose intolerance, which affects 85% of the population in APMEA − these consumers are turning to  lactose-free dairy beverages as options.

Within plant-based milk, oat is fast becoming popular as it is a sustainable plant base that delivers taste, nutrition and environmental goals. In fact, the oat beverage market is reportedly worth US$4 billion globally as of 2020 even as consumers are now looking beyond soy milk, a traditional staple in Asia. Among consumers in Thailand, 55% prefer oat milk as their ready-to-drink, 41% of Australians like to have oat milk with their tea and coffee and 40% of consumers in China drink oat milk two to three times a week.

Kerry’s ‘APMEA Consumer Insight into Dairy Alternative Beverages’ research study showed that millennials were the largest consumer group driving oat milk consumption in the region. There are 4 factors behind this preference: health, taste, food and retail service, and sustainability. Oat milk’s ability to offer good health benefits, how well it complements coffee, and how it has the same creamy dairy milk texture, are all winning over consumers. It is a market game changer because it can deliver the same type of drinking experience as a latte but is 100% plant-based.

The study also revealed that increased demand for consumer customisation in retail service, alongside oat milk’s low environmental impact, have boosted oat milk’s popularity. According to data from Poore & Nemecek, switching from dairy milk to oat milk in a regular latte can cut carbon emissions by half.

Another trend is how plant-based beverages in general are starting to influence other product categories, such as the 3-in-1 instant coffee space. We predict a boom in a new generation of instant mix powders that offer plant-based solutions, with the plant-based instant mix market set to increase by 40% from 2021 to 2025. People want products that are ‘natural’ or ‘made with real ingredients’, two top claims in consumer purchasing, as well as options that deliver fibre. This is where plant-based solutions in instant coffee mixes can offer good value.

If you were to categorise these substitutes, how would you rank them in terms of market share and growth?

Soy milk is still the dominant milk alternative choice by consumers in APMEA followed by the faster-growing almond milk, oat milk and coconut milk


What does Kerry offer (solutions) to its customers who want to venture into the non-dairy milk alternative space ?

Radicle™ by Kerry is a platform designed to address the common challenges in non-dairy milk space and bring together integrated solutions aimed at creating superior plant-based products. For example, it is challenging to create that essential creamy, fatty mouthfeel that emulates real dairy, with no undesired aftertaste in plant-based beverages.

Within our Radicle™ by Kerry platform, we have our taste modulation technology TasteSense™ Mouthfeel and Masking, that can deliver rich dairy-like experience – while masking any off-notes.

While plant-based dairy alternatives are generally perceived to be healthy, there is also opportunity to further enhance their nutritional value by adding science-backed functional ingredients that support digestive and immune health, like Kerry’s clinically-backed immune health ingredient Wellmune® , and BC30TM , a natural probiotic ingredient backed by over 25 published papers and used to create functional foods and beverages.


‘Dairy vs Dairy Alternatives - there is a lot of scientific evidence showing higher nutritional benefits of dairy beverages as compared to its alternatives. What is your comment on this?

Both dairy and dairy alternatives have their own nutritional benefits. Dairy milk does provide essential proteins, vitamins and minerals but it also contains extra calories from fat and since it’s from an animal source, it does not contain any fiber.

With dairy alternatives, there are more options available in the market such as pea, oat and soy. Their nutritional value is each different and often by mixing 2 or more types of plant-based milk, you can achieve a product with a nutritive value equivalent or higher than dairy milk.


What are the advantages/benefits that a manufacturer (customer) can achieve by exploring into the dairy beverage alternative space ?

Health is definitely a big advantage, among others, when it comes to meeting the demands of the dairy beverage alternative space. According to our recent proprietary consumer studies, 61% of APMEA consumers view plant-based beverages as better for health. They are seeking to add nutrition not present in animal dairy to their diet.

As a manufacturer, you are offering more nutritional and consumption options to your customers.


Can a dairy manufacturer also move into this category without cannibalising its own products, and instead complement/strengthen its category ?

Yes ! We are seeing dairy manufacturers expanding their portfolio into the plant-based category. In fact, most dairy manufacturers do have soy milk in their portfolio and now it’s about expanding their plant-based offering into other types of plant milk such as oat or even pea. Consumers in Asia drink plant-based milk to add nutrition to their diet rather than replacing dairy, hence the plant-based milk category will complement manufacturers’ core dairy products.


For more information on Kerry’s plant-based dairy solutions, visit




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