Which milk alternatives should pubs stock?

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Variety of options: operators can benefit from stocking multiple milk alternatives
Variety of options: operators can benefit from stocking multiple milk alternatives

Related tags Milk Health

Pubs should increase their range of milk alternatives so they can cater to people looking for indulgent options as well as functional, a new report recommends.

A shift in attitude means plant-based options are seen as part of a positive and healthy lifestyle, rather than a necessary response to intolerances.

Oat, soya, almond and coconut are the top alternatives, with rice and hemp also new to the on-trade and off-trade.

Plant-based options are cost-efficient because they command a premium over dairy, according to a new report titled Plant-Based Profits​ from Alpro and BB Foodservice.

Premium prices

Speciality coffees that incorporate plant-based milk can be marketed as an indulgent treat and sold at a premium price.

Almost one in three consumers would visit and buy more often if their favourite plant-based drink was available, the research discovered.

Soya and oat milks are seen as more functional – their proteins work the same way as dairy in coffee. But almond and coconut milks can be used in more indulgent drink options, offering an additional taste that customers are willing to pay extra for.

Alpro found that plant-based shoppers will typically spend 20% more on a hot drink out of home than their dairy-drinking counterparts.

Breakfast is also a ripe market for pub operators to appeal to plant-based drinkers, with the meal making up one eighth of out-of-home food visits every month.

Skyrocketing demand

BB Foodservice director of trading & catering Steve Carter said: “We’ve seen first-hand how demand for plant-based products has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. The number of consumers opting for dairy-free products has never been higher and as our report finds, they’re willing to spend more to get them.

“Dairy alternative products have cemented themselves in every corner of foodservice, as evidenced by the fact that one in three people now regularly buy plant-based when out of home.

“That’s why we’ve called on Alpro’s expertise to launch this report. Complete with recipe suggestions, it ensures operators know what their customers expect.”

Alpro UK & Ireland marketing director Vicky Bhattu added: “The surging demand for plant-based food and drink, particularly out of home, signals a significant opportunity for operators, but only if they are armed with the insight, advice and know-how to capitalise on this fast-growing and rapidly evolving category.”

How to market different milks



As a day-one alternative used by operators, this milk is the closest to dairy.

It is one of the most popular alternatives because it is suitable for customers with dairy and nut allergens.

It offers a neutral taste and helps bring out the taste of the coffee roast.



The rising star in the milk alternatives world, oat milk is popular for its delicate, sweet flavour.

It tastes creamy and malty in coffee and is regarded as a nutritious option because of its natural sugars and low-fat content.



In January, Costa Coffee introduced coconut milk across all of its UK stores. It heralded the launch with a special coconut and vanilla latte.

Alpro advises coconut milk can be used in seasonal options, such as Christmas themed drinks or fruity, cold, options for the summer.



This drink is available from most suppliers in an unsweetened and/or sweetened version, meaning there are plenty of options for its usage.

It can work well in a breakfast option because its natural sweetness complements other cereals and grains, according to Alpro.

It can also be marketed on a drinks menu because it extends the flavour of coffee.


Related topics Soft & Hot Drinks Healthy options

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