Sam Moore
Sam is a Global Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, specialising in dairy and beverages.

Gluten avoidance in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) is rising and, as a result, there is a considerable gluten-free market. To match the growing demand, the number of products featuring gluten-free claims is increasing, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

While a similar percentage of consumers are avoiding lactose, the lactose-free market is much smaller. The success of gluten-free products in ANZ could indicate that there is significant potential for lactose-free to follow a similar growth pattern.

Like gluten avoidance, lactose avoidance in Australia is on the rise with consumers citing allergies and health reasons as the drivers behind the decision.

Dairy-free products are also becoming more popular in the market, driven by consumer perception that they are a healthier alternative to dairy products. Consumers are self-diagnosing allergies and intolerances, leading them to experiment with dairy-free products. The same argument applies to lactose and further provides grounds for opportunity in the market.

This shift towards lactose avoidance aligns with the Mintel Trend ‘Bannedwagon’, which highlights how more and more consumers are choosing to cut out certain foods and ingredients which they view as unhealthy or not suited to their body.

The lactose-free movement

According to Mintel GNPD, the ANZ dairy scene has already witnessed a wave of ‘low/no/reduced’ lactose innovation in milk, including Woolworth’s and WDOM from New Zealand, as well as Pura and Liddells from Australia. Yoghurt brands are now following suit and joining the lactose-free movement.

Jalna Lactose Free Wholemeal Vanilla Yoghurt

Jalna, for instance, is an Australian yoghurt brand that launched a lactose-free yoghurt earlier this year. This product has all the taste and pot set purity of dairy yoghurts, just without the lactose. The company claims that it has the same thick and creamy texture and is free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, gelatine and colours.

Dairy yoghurts, a natural source of probiotics, are an excellent example of products that improve digestive health. Mintel research finds that consumers in Australia are eating functional foods to aid their digestion. If consumers are needing to avoid dairy and lactose for allergy reasons, but are still wanting products with digestive health benefits, lactose-free yoghurts would offer the best of both worlds as most plant-based yoghurts are lacking in probiotics.

Innovation needed in lactose-free yoghurts

Aside from more education needed around lactose and dairy, for lactose-free yoghurts to make an impact in the market, innovation and an extra focus on their natural health benefits is needed to create a point of difference.

Inspiration could be found overseas where there are more established lactose-free markets such as Germany. Stand-out appeal could be achieved in several ways, either through innovative flavours, exploring additional claims, or meeting the needs for specific groups of people.

Among other benefits
Lifeway BioKefir Immunity Pomegranate Blueberry Cultured Nonfat Milk
from the US claims to be a high-potency probiotic kefir shot that contains 12 live and active cultures, designed to support regularity and immunity and is 99% lactose-free.

Bold flavours
Valio Valiojogurtti’s Carrot Cake Flavoured Yoghurt from Finland is a spiced carrot yoghurt said to be low in lactose, free from preservatives, contains calcium and is a source of vitamin D.

Specific age range
Bakoma Senior Active Forest Fruit Yoghurt with Calcium and Vitamin D from Poland contains calcium and vitamin D for maintaining healthy bones, proper muscle function and the functionality of the immune system.