Tate & Lyle commissioned new research amongst consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Sweden, to investigate attitudes towards dairy consumption.
The survey of 1,554 consumers between the ages of 19 to 65 found that the frequency in which young consumers eat dairy products is high, with 71% eating cheese, 81% drinking milk and 69% eating yoghurt at least once a week. The news comes as purchase of dairy products has been on the decline for several years with many turning to dairy alternatives.
Tate & Lyle said the research uncovered opportunities for food and drink manufacturers to do more to encourage young people to eat dairy products.
The survey showed that furthermore, 77% of 18-35-year-olds said they were happy to consider eating more dairy products if they could try products with less fat, sugar, and allergens.
“Our research has uncovered some interesting emerging trends when it comes to how and why consumers are purchasing dairy,” said Beth Nieman Hacker, market research director at Tate & Lyle.
"It is so important to understand how behaviours, values and appetites are changing and the drivers behind these shifts, so food and drink brands can launch products that meet the needs of consumers today.”
It said that health was a key priority for the younger generation as one in four (39%) 18-35-year-olds said they felt dairy products contained too much fat and 34% said that dairy products contain too much sugar.
Younger consumers were much more likely to eat dairy alternatives – with 35% eating non-dairy cheese, 33% eating non-dairy ice cream and 46% non-dairy milk, at least once a week.
The survey showed that a flexitarian diet seemed to be on the rise amongst consumers of all ages, who switch between dairy and dairy alternatives depending on the meal type.
Of those in the survey 39% said they eat dairy cheese at dinner and 26% chose a dairy alternative, while 32% preferred dairy yoghurt at breakfast and 26% liked a dairy alternative yoghurt as a mid-morning snack.
Consumers were also looking to make more sustainable choices – with a fifth (18%) of older consumers saying products with environmental certifications would be a big factor in them increasing their dairy intake, while younger consumers were looking for more environmentally friendly packaging (19%) and a longer shelf life (20%).
Delphine Forejt, Dairy category development manager at Tate & Lyle, said: “Our research found that nearly three quarters of 18-35-year-olds who are eating less of dairy are happy to consider eating more dairy products if they could try products with less fat and sugars.
"While dairy products have long been associated with goodness, in today’s world, the dairy industry must adapt to modern consumer tastes, convenience and healthier lifestyles. At Tate & Lyle we are committed to working with customers to help them overcome these challenges and deliver tasty products that consumers love.”