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Best Non-Dairy Milk determined by Gastrograph A.I.

Recent consumer trends for healthy and environmentally friendly diets have led to an increase in plant-based food and beverage products. Consumers are now focused on healthy eating and the demand for these products has only increased, especially during the global pandemic (Fortune).

The global non-dairy milk market alone is projected to reach $38 billion by 2024. Today, there are a plethora of non-dairy milk products including almond milk, flax milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, and oat milk, among others. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are aware of the popularity and are constantly creating new formulas, new flavors, and even limited holiday edition flavors - but how does one determine which non-dairy milk best meets their preferences? Rather than do your own taste test, let’s predict the most preferred product in the United States using Artificial Intelligence.

Non Dairy Milk
Figure 1: Non-Dairy Milk

Gastrograph AI is trained on the world’s largest sensory review database of on-market products. The AI is trained to recognize demographic differences in perception and preference among diverse groups of consumers - helping CPG companies create more diverse products for a more diverse world. Using this technology you can analyze the performance of each non-dairy milk in the category, what flavors are prominent, and the perceived intensity of each flavor-signatures. In addition to comparing CPG products, Gastrograph AI has the capability to explore new combinations of flavors that do not currently exist on the market (e.g Cinnamon Almond Milk), as well as optimize what flavors or combinations of flavors can increase a target demographics preference.

A myriad of non-dairy milk brands from Chobani, Silk, Planet Oat, Trader Joes, Almond Breeze, Oatly, MALK, and So Delicious were selected for this analysis and to create the stack rank of competitive products in the United States. Those products are evaluated based on Gastrograph AI’s preference measurement called Perceived Quality (PQ). PQ is a predicted preference score approximate to a 7 point hedonic scale.

What is done with this data? How is it collected?

Tasting panels are hosted worldwide to capture consumer perception and preferences in the Gastrograph Review App (App Store or Play Store). Through the app, panelists review product sensory profiles and record their preferences. The AI is then trained to recognize the sensory profiles, understand preferences based on demographics, and assess for future products.

Table 1: Highest Ranking Non-Dairy milk Brands by type
Highest Ranking Non-Dairy milk Brands by type

Almond Milk

Almond milk contains key attributes ‘nuts and seeds’ ‘sugar’ and ‘dairy’ which are driving preference at their current intensity in the product. The Original Almond Milk by Silk ranked as the highest almond milk from the list with a PQ value of 3.40 / 7. The analysis indicates that an increase in richness would allow this product to perform better. Although even in an unsweetened Almond milk like the Unsweetened Almond Milk by MALK, one of the lower-scoring products, still ranked higher than certain Pea and Soy Milks. Another attribute discovered by the AI is that almond milk is more enjoyed by males (Archetype 2, which is largely composed of US male consumers).

Flavor Profile and preference distributions of Silk Almond Milk
Figure 2: Flavor Profile and preference distributions of Silk Almond Milk

Oat Milk

Oat Milk ranked high above the charts with a PQ value of 4.19 / 7. The highest scoring oat milk was from The Original Oatly! It held drivers of preference that include ‘wet’ and ‘dairy’ notes with just under 50% of the population giving it a PQ score of 5 - 7. According to our analysis, one improvement of the current product could be to add honey or vanilla flavors to increase the perception of sweetness. Even the next highest ranking oat milk, the Low Fat Oat Milk by Oatly panelists held a positive flavor attribute for rich, mouthfeel, and roasted textures.

Flavor Profile for The Original Oatly! Oat Milk
Figure 3: Flavor Profile for The Original Oatly! Oat Milk

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk scored a PQ value of 3.75 / 7 with drivers of preference in ‘nuts and seeds’, ‘dairy’, ‘sugar, and ‘rich.’ Cashew Milk by So Delicious was one of the lower PQ scoring milks of 3.24 / 7 and was noted for strong ‘mineral’ reference flavor. It ranked higher than the nuts and seed flavor. Our data delineates that a good blend of cashew and hazelnut would make a great tasting Non-Dairy milk.

Flavor Profile for Cashew Milk by So Delicious
Figure 4: Flavor Profile for Cashew Milk by So Delicious

Soy Milk

Soy Milk ranked as the lowest non-dairy milk. In the example of Silk Soy Chocolate Milk, the drivers of preference included ‘rich’ ‘dairy’ and ‘sugar’ notes. It was more preferred by Archetype 2 and held a PQ score of 3.30 / 7. According to our analysis, an increase in honey would drive an additional preference.

Flavor Profile for Silk Soy Chocolate Milk
Figure 5: Flavor Profile for Silk Soy Chocolate Milk

Based on the AI's prediction, the clear winner is Oat Milk! Its key flavors-signatures are in nuts and dairy, driving preference for a broad range of US consumers. It is notable that the nut and seed flavors are truly driving preference as those signatures are not found in dairy milk.

Flavor Profile Comparison Map
Figure 6: Flavor Profile Comparison Map

From this data who enjoys Oat Milk the most? The figures below delineate what percentage of the population enjoys a certain brand of milk and the PQ value. The different Archetypes signify different consumer cohorts.

Preference Archetypes
Figure 7: Preference Archetypes

Based on the competitive set and the demographic tasting population, we can also look at preference segmentation, where Gastrograph AI can identify clusters (or archetypes) of consumers that have similar preferences for the flavors, aromas, and textures found in the set of non-dairy milks. Archetype 1 focuses more on female users in different age ranges from 20 -70. Archetype 2 is more male-focused with ages in their 20s-60s.

Through the PQ values, market preference comparisons, and flavor profiles the best U.S non-dairy milk is - Oat Milk! It ranked higher in PQ, archetypes, flavor profiles, and demographics. Specifically the Original Oatly! Oat Milk was the highest in comparison to any other oat milk. Below is a chart for the highest non-dairy milk brands according to their PQ. Perhaps things may change in the future and a new nut milk may surpass oat, but as for now moo-ve over cow’s milk, oat milk is here to stay!

What do you think of our results?

What else do we want to know more about Non-Dairy milk?

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