Research & Insights

Got Milk? An Exploration of Consumption and Search Trends — Amp Agency

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A person's arm is extended towards the camera. The person is holding a small plastic milk bottle with a red cap against a plain white background.

At Amp, we work with many Food and Beverage companies to help market their products. Part of our services is monitoring and providing insights on search trends related to their business.

One trend that keeps coming up in our beverage industry research is the increase in search interest in alternatives to dairy milk. The topic was so prominent in the data that we explored it further. This post presents some thoughts on the current state of dairy milk consumption and the trends with the top alternatives. Get ready for the latest in plant-based milk search data!

Dairy Milk Consumption Decreases

To understand the decline in dairy milk consumption, we reviewed an article on USA Facts. It discussed a 2021 USDA study that examined how Americans drank milk between 2003 and 2018. The output of the study concluded that fewer people drank milk alone or with cereal by 2018. Although the report stated that plant-based milk wasn’t the main reason for the decline, its popularity grew during this time. The article suggests further investigation into price and taste preferences is needed to understand the drop better.

Our team believes that increased food sensitivities cause milk consumption to decrease. There appears to be better awareness of these conditions, including lactose intolerance. We pulled Google Trends data to see the increase in the topic of Lactose Intolerance since 2004.

There is also a rising trend in consumers’ awareness of the impact their food choices have on the environment. This shift in awareness has people willing to substitute traditional foods with plant-based alternatives.

Search Trends for Top Alternative MilksSince 2004

We dug into Google Trends data to see which alternatives to dairy milk have received the most search interest over the past twenty years. Here is the list of kinds of milk we investigated.

  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Rice milk
  • Oat milk

Soy milk started as the top alternative but has been overtaken by almond milk. A dramatic increase in the popularity of oat milk began in 2020, and it has started to threaten almond milk’s popularity. 

Looking at the chart, you can see spikes in the interest in almond milk over the last 10 years. Those spikes correlate to January when people research better nutritional regimens due to New Year’s resolutions.

Even though these plant-based milks are gaining in search interest, they are not at the same level as plain old dairy milk.

When comparing the top two plant-based milk keywords to “milk,” the term most relevant to dairy milk is the top.

The Newest Trending Milk Alternatives

We uncovered more Alt-Milk topics after looking at the top plant-based milk alternatives. Each one of these milk alternatives has seen recent search interest increases in the early months of 2024.

Macadamia Nut Milk

Macadamia nut milk is quickly climbing the ladder of popular alternative milk options, catching the eye of health enthusiasts and eco-conscious consumers alike. In the past few months, searches for “macadamia milk” have soared, seeing a 124% increase in search volume from March 2024 to April 2024.

Macadamia nut milk is a nutritious alternative to dairy milk​, especially as dairy-free and plant-based diet trends continue to increase in popularity. Environmental sustainability is another contributing factor to the rise in popularity, as the production of macadamia nuts is known for its efficient water use, making it more sustainable than other nut-based milk alternatives. 

Overall, the combination of health benefits, sustainability, and enhanced product choices drive the growing popularity of macadamia nut milk, making it a standout in the alternative milk market.

Coffee Milk

Since becoming Rhode Island’s official state drink in 1993, coffee milk has remained popular within state boundaries. However, recent months have witnessed a spike in interest in this unique beverage, with nationwide searches for “coffee milk” skyrocketing by 82% in January 2024 compared to the previous year and peaking at over 22,000 queries in February. This surge reflects a broader shift in consumer preferences toward alternative milk beverages, driving a 120% increase in search volume during the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023. Coffee milk’s delightful fusion of familiar comforts and new flavors, achieved by blending coffee syrup or extract with the milk of your choice, offers a harmonious marriage of strong coffee notes and creamy indulgence. It’s like your childhood comfort, chocolate milk, got a grown-up upgrade! 

Everyone’s jumping on the alternative milk bandwagon, and coffee milk’s riding that wave like a champ, boasting potential health benefits thanks to its antioxidant-rich coffee and the benefits offered by the milk of your choice. Whether enjoyed hot or cold, morning or evening, coffee milk caters to diverse tastes and lifestyles, making it a versatile staple for any occasion. The resurgence of coffee milk marks a significant shift in beverage trends, capturing consumers’ hearts and taste buds nationwide. With its rich history, enticing flavor, and potential health benefits, coffee milk has firmly established itself as a frontrunner in alternative beverages with its sudden peak in interest. 

Grape Milk

Back in February of this year, this interesting beverage went viral. Denmandale Dairy, a farm in Cortland, Ohio, was known for making interesting flavored milk, such as red velvet milk, pumpkin spice milk, and orange cream milk. But for some reason, their grape milk product went viral online, garnering over 15k likes and 18k shares on Facebook. It was so popular that they brought it back a month later as people begged to try some “delicious” grape milk. Unfortunately, this was just a short-lived social media phenomenon, so you most likely can’t get your hands on grape milk. It is interesting to see how something going viral on social media can affect search trends drastically, going from an average of 700 monthly searches historically and skyrocketing to almost 15,000 in February.

This brief social media frenzy surrounding Denmandale Dairy’s grape milk is a fascinating case study in search volume. Historically averaging a mere 700 monthly searches, the product skyrocketed to nearly 15,000 in February after going viral. This dramatic increase highlights the potential impact of social media buzz on search trends. It underscores the importance of crafting engaging content that resonates with audiences and the potential for such content to drive significant spikes in search volume.

Blue Milk

Popular in the Star Wars universe, blue milk is a fictional drink produced by Banthas, large creatures domesticated throughout the galaxy. The milk makes other products, such as blue ice cream, blue biscuits, and blue milk cheese. If you thought that sounded appealing, we have great news: TruMoo has created genuine blue milk right here on Earth, which is vanilla-flavored and tinted blue. Ready for an important day in the Star Wars fandom (May the 4th be with you)? The milk was announced in March and released in April. Searches related to the product had a strong performance in March before an even sharper increase in April. Search interest during April for the phrase “blue milk” had a 1,937% increase compared to February, topping out at 110,000 searches. Related query “milk Star Wars” had a 2,421% increase over the same time frame. TruMoo says their Blue Milk will only be available until July this year, so get it while you can!

Also within the Star Wars universe is green milk from another type of creature. Perhaps related to interest in Star Wars-themed milk, searches for green milk phrases experienced increases in volume around March and April. Although no official product was released, “Green Milk Star Wars” had a 175% change from February.

Final Thoughts
Our agency’s use of Google Search data can discover and quantify changes in consumer interests. We found the milk and milk alternatives to be an example of how we can research topics related to a change in consumption and bring forth real data to help us understand what the marketplace looks like presently and where it is headed. If you would like to work with us to discover future trends, please contact us.

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