Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy business, is eyeing up the market for milk alternatives in Canada, a market forecast to remain in solid growth through much of the 2020s.

The French giant has launched a new six-strong line of plant-based, “high protein” drinks in Canada.

Sold under the brand name Enjoy, the beverages encompass a range of flavours, all unsweetened: oat; oat vanilla; almond; almond vanilla; hazelnut; and hazelnut and oat.

The drinks contain eight grams of pea protein per 250 ml serving.

Nathalie Cusson, the general manager of Lactalis Canada’s fluid dairy division, said: “As nutritious, high protein, unsweetened beverages, Enjoy responds to a growing consumer demand for plant-based options that taste great and have positive health impacts, including non-GMO and gluten-free certification with no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours.

“What sets Enjoy apart is its uniquely high-protein content which consumers are increasingly desiring in their daily diet.”

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Lactalis’s business in Canada is, like in many of the privately-owned group’s markets, centred on cheese, not least after its acquisition in 2018 of a series of assets from Kraft Heinz (Incidentally, two years later, the same companies got round the table again, with Lactalis buying more cheese from Kraft Heinz in the US).

Nevertheless. Lactalis appears to have spotted what it believes is an opportunity in a different category in Canada.

According to GlobalData, Just Drinks' parent company, the market for milk alternatives* in Canada is forecast to have reached US$345.4m in 2023, which would represent a five-year CAGR of more than 17%.

Of course, one has to be watchful about the impact of inflation on forecasts of sales by value but, even in volume terms, the data and analytics group estimates the market would have reached more than 168m litres last year.

Looking further into the 2020s, GlobalData forecasts the market will reach a value of US$531.6m (at a CAGR of just over 9%; slower but still healthy), while volumes are predicted to reach 214.7m litres (a CAGR just shy of 5%).

Lactalis has already launched plant-based spreads and yogurts in Canada and now the dairy titan is turning its hand to milk alternatives, which could, if the estimates turn out to be accurate, offer some healthy returns for the business.

*data is for drinks made from grains, nuts, rice and seeds