Plant-based: much more than a substitute



  • New research from ofi shows that two thirds (67%) of consumers see plant-based dairy as complementary to dairy products, and ‘an opportunity to try something new’ (65%)
  • The plant-based beverages, desserts and ice-cream market is worth an estimated €5.3bn1 in 2022. Yet research shows that 8% of consumers switched back to dairy as they did not like the first plant-based product they tried
  • Sustainability continues to be a key driver for consumers buying plant-based products in general: ofi is proud to win the Sustainability Innovation Award at FI Europe 2022 on December 6.


ofi, a global leader in naturally good food and beverage ingredients, has pinpointed plant-based dairy’s potential in new consumer research across five European countries.


Interest in plant-based products continues to grow, showing high potential for plant-based as something new and complementary for European diets. 61% of consumers indicate they are consuming more plant-based products than two years ago, and 58% expect it to increase in the coming two years.


Dairy alternatives specifically are carving out an identity beyond being a mere substitute. Two thirds (67%) of consumers see plant-based dairy as complementary to dairy products, and ‘an opportunity to try something new’ (65%), particularly for indulgent product categories including ice-cream, desserts and cocoa beverages.



Estimate Plant-Based Beverages, Desserts and Ice Cream European retail market size figures from Euromonitor Passport

Missing significant opportunities

The plant-based beverages, desserts and ice-cream market is worth an estimated €5.3bn (2022) yet there is significant opportunity if key formulation challenges faced by manufacturers can be addressed. For example, over a third (35%) of the consumers polled are dissatisfied with the plant-based dairy product they tried.


Further, 8% of consumers switched back to dairy as they did not like the first plant-based product they tried. More than a fifth (22%) of all those polled do not believe plant-based products can taste great.


Even current users (61%) say that bad taste and texture is preventing them from consuming more plant-based products.  


Addressing taste and texture

In formulating plant-based proteins, nuts prove a popular choice, with the consumer survey revealing that nuts stand out compared to soy and oats as having a good taste and being rich in nutrients. Almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts were strongly associated with being tasty, natural, and healthy.


ofi’s Chief Innovation & Quality Officer, Kamesh Ellajosyula said, “Manufacturers have a huge opportunity to dial up taste and health benefits but face ongoing formulation challenges. Consumers who enjoy plant-based want wholesome products with real ingredients but instead may find products have added sugars, masking agents and stabilizers.  At ofi, with our deep knowledge of nuts, cocoa, coffee and spices we can work with customers to produce nutritious and delicious plant-based products such as ice-creams and beverages.


“Equally, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Our dairy team is co-creating with our nuts R&D specialists to find exciting hybrid solutions that can combine the functional, nutritional and sustainability benefits of both dairy and plant-based.”


ofi’s Chief Marketing Officer, Briony Mathieson added, “75% of all consumers surveyed say they are willing to pay more for a sustainable product. ofi’s extensive farmer programs mean we can help customers source ingredients with a powerful narrative about communities and planet. We make this real through our product sustainability strategies such as Cashew Trail and Coffee LENS. Our focus on reporting through granular data and metrics was recognized today with our Cocoa Compass sustainability strategy and impact reports winning the Sustainability Innovation Award at Food Ingredients Europe2. By collaborating with our customers from plant to palate we can together be the change for good food and a healthy future.”


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The award recognizes “an organization or company for a measurable supply system that demonstrates environmental, economic and/or socially sustainable practices in the F&B industry. Preference is given to systems introduced/significantly improved within the last 2 years.”
Notes to Editors

The online quantitative survey polled 1,508 participants from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden (~300 per country) during November 2022. Participants were aged from 18 to 65 and were (co-)responsible for grocery shopping. Additionally, all the participants were non-rejectors of plant-based food and beverages, as well as non-rejectors of at least three of ofi’s product categories. They also had no allergies for nuts, caffeine, or cocoa. Specific categories surveyed were: Desserts, ice cream, milk, cocoa beverages, yogurt, and coffee beverages.

About ofi

olam food ingredients (“ofi”) is a new operating group born out of Olamofi offers sustainable, natural, value-added food products and ingredients so that consumers can enjoy the healthy and indulgent products they love. It consists of industry-leading businesses of cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts, and spices. ofi has built a unique global value chain presence including its own farming operations, farm-gate origination, and manufacturing facilities. ofi partners with customers, leveraging its complementary and differentiated portfolio of ‘on-trend’ food products, to co-create solutions that anticipate and meet changing consumer preferences as demand increases for healthier food that’s traceable and sustainable.


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About Olam Group

Olam Group is a leading food and agri-business supplying food, ingredients, feed and fibre to 20,900 customers worldwide. Its value chain spans over 60 countries and includes farming, processing and distribution operations, as well as a global network of farmers. By re-imagining global agriculture and food systems, Olam Group aims to address the many challenges involved in meeting the needs of a growing global population, while achieving a positive impact for farming communities, our planet and all our stakeholders.


Headquartered and listed in Singapore, Olam currently ranks among the top 30 largest primary listed companies in terms of market capitalisation on SGX-ST.


Since June 2020, Olam Group has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series, a global sustainable investment index series developed by FTSE Russell, following a rigorous assessment of Olam’s supply chain activities, impact on the environment and governance transparency. The FTSE4Good Index Series identifies companies that demonstrate strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and is used by a variety of market participants to create and assess responsible investment funds.


More information on Olam can be found at


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This announcement does not constitute or form part of an offer for sale or solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe for securities in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Japan or any other jurisdiction and the securities referred to herein have not been registered under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. The ordinary shares have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and may not be offered or sold, directly or indirectly, in the United States, absent registration under or an exemption from, or transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of, the Securities Act. No public offering of securities is being made in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

Contacts for ofi corporate communications

Nikki Barber

Head of Communications, ofi

+44 7568 108555


Nick Viner

Head of Media, ofi

+44 7721 160645