Top Trends in Dairy for 2022

By John Crawford and Melissa Rodriguez, Client Insights – Dairy, IRI

As the New Year begins, we enter a period of ongoing COVID-fueled turmoil and inflation with hopes for a greater return to normalcy as we look ahead into spring. As these and other trends influence consumer behaviors and preferences, we expect the following trends to loom large in the dairy aisle in 2022.

Expect More Product Innovation in Stores

Nine out of 15 dairy categories saw declining sales of new items in 2020. And ongoing supply chain challenges have led retailers to delay resets and focus on keeping shelves stocked with staples. But manufacturers have continued to invest in product innovation over the last two to three years— and we expect to see a lot of those products finally hit shelves later in 2022.

Look for even more product innovation as a result, outpacing recent introductions that have already brought innovative new offerings such as:

  • Yogurts and drinks with immunity-supporting probiotics and a zero-sugar oat milk from Chobani
  • F’real on-the-go blend-it-yourself frozen shakes and smoothies
  • A variety of oat milk-based and fruit-based pops that are Kosher and gluten-free with no added sugar from Chloe's
  • Donut-inspired ice cream bars from Klondike
  • Dual-textured frozen novelties from Bomb Pop
  • A light ice cream collection called Heaven from Häagen-Dazs
  • Halo Top’s Keto line of ice cream products

Look for More Digestive Health Claims

Despite recent inflationary trends, consumers continue to exhibit a willingness to pay a premium for plant-based milk alternatives, specialty yogurts and products such as Halo Top light ice creams and keto series products. We are seeing manufacturers likewise ramp up their offerings of products with probiotic, prebiotic and other claims related to digestive health in response to consumer demand for these items.

Source: IRI Data for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 3, 2021

Organic Product Growth Stalls

As of September 2021, organic products represented 2.5% of total edible sales, but a much larger 3.8% of total dairy sales. But the growth in organic dairy sales over the last 52 weeks ending September 2021 trailed conventional dairy slightly on a percentage basis. This may be a sign that consumers are currently more persuaded by some of the specific health claims mentioned above than they are by organic status for many dairy products.

Oat Is on Fire

In contrast, plant-based milk alternatives are performing very well. Oat-based products, in particular, are achieving strong sales increases across multiple Dairy15 categories, with products from companies like Planet Oat, Silk Oat Yeah and Oatly branching into new categories, including ice cream. Oat even recently surpassed soy to become the No. 2 milk alternative, but still trails almond by a considerable margin.

Frozen Novelties Will Remain Strong Sellers

As consumers have shown a willingness to pay more for products with perceived health benefits, we are seeing a sort of 80/20 rule in effect. Shoppers may want to eat healthier, but they also want to indulge themselves occasionally and have increasingly embraced frozen novelties as a treat of choice.

Source: IRI Data for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 3, 2021

E-Commerce Will Continue to Grow

E-commerce growth in the dairy category has softened considerably from mid-pandemic exponential growth levels. But it continues to outpace brick-and-mortar sales. This trend should continue moving forward.

Click and Collect Will Remain Predominant

Even during the height of the pandemic, when people were trying to avoid the grocery store, we still saw click and collect as shoppers’ primary e-commerce approach. And we don’t expect that to change. Customers are becoming comfortable with buying an increasing variety of products online. But they still remain a bit wary of letting people pick out their produce and date-sensitive items like milk.

Consumers Are Returning to Pre-Pandemic Eating

As consumers revert to their pre-pandemic eating patterns, we are seeing plant-based and lactose-free brands return to the top 15, including a resurgence for yogurt with three brands now back among these sales leaders.

Source: IRI Data for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 3, 2021

2022 Will Be a Challenging Year

When the pandemic declined from its peak, most dairy categories saw fewer households buying in 2021, with desserts, whipped toppings and frozen novelties being notable exceptions. High price pressure and continued supply chain issues that could be worsened by Omicron-fueled COVID spikes figure to make the early months of 2022 a challenge.

To win in this environment, manufacturers and retailers should consider that:

  • Assortment optimization will be even more critical as out-of-stocks persist.
  • Consumption will soften and consumers will shift to value brands and channels.
  • Promotions will become more important as consumers become more price sensitive.
  • Club sales will continue to be strong as consumers seek value.
  • Convenience will rebound as motility increases.
  • E-commerce will continue to grow, albeit at a lower rate.
  • Third-party services will thrive as they continue to improve their quick-delivery capabilities.
  • Multiple digital touchpoints will be needed to attract and engage shoppers.

In this difficult and inflationary environment, growth in the dairy category over the coming year will likely be attributable to prices increases as opposed to volume increases. But by focusing on the approaches above — and on the products, innovations and dairy-related health claims that are resonating with consumers — we anticipate that manufacturers and retailers will overcome these challenges to achieve modest category success in 2022.

For more information, reach out to your IRI representative or

How can we help you supercharge growth and profitability?


95% of CPG, retail, and health and beauty companies in the Fortune 100 work with us

Answer the question below:
= eight - five