Lactose-free dairy continues to attract health-conscious customers

The health appeal of lactose-free is increasing globally, more and more fortified lactose-free products are hitting the market.

What I find interesting is that the appeal of lactose-free dairy is not always to counter lactose intolerance. An overwhelming number of lactose-free dairy consumers in Finland – as well as in emerging markets such as Colombia and China – say that it’s the health appeal of lactose-free products, rather than lactose intolerance, which is their main purchase driver. In fact, two out of three respondents agreed that lactose-free dairy is easier to digest than regular dairy, with three in five believing that lactose-free dairy is healthier than regular dairy1.

Of course, lactose intolerance remains a driver for this market, although it does vary widely depending on geographical location. In the Netherlands, a week barely goes by without me meeting another person who is lactose intolerant. But if I lived in East Asia I would probably be encountering a new lactose-intolerant person every day. In this region, 90-100% of adults have an impaired ability to digest lactose. On the other hand, if I lived in Denmark, it would be quite a rare occurrence: only 4% of adults suffer from this complaint2.

A rise in additional claims

The health appeal of lactose-free milk makes it a perfect means for fortification and the use of additional claims. This is clear from an analysis of the number of launches in lactose-free dairy (Figure 1)3. What I find striking is that in 2018, nearly half (45%) of all lactose-free UHT milk launches were mineral/vitamin fortified. One example is a new lactose-free reduced fat milk from H-E-B Organics, which contains added vitamins A and D. It is “sourced from cows raised on organic feed, with no artificial growth hormones or antibodies.”

Figure 1. Top 3 ingredient claims in 2018 launches per type of milk[3].

Also noteworthy is that vitamin/fortified and low/no/reduced fat lactose-free milks are much more prominent in North America and Latin America than in other regions. An example is Lala Yomi chocolate-flavored lactose-free milk which is fortified with vitamins A and D. Although it’s marketed at children, I wouldn’t mind sampling it myself!

My inbox parallels these results. I am receiving more and more customer requests from these regions to develop more healthy concepts with lactose-free and vitamins, in line with this trend.

In addition to these three claims, it’s worth keeping an eye on three other claims that are increasingly seen in the marketplace: no additives/preservatives; high/added protein; and functional/bone health.

Are you choosing lactose-free too?

To enjoy all these health benefits, many people are choosing to drink lactose-free milk because they believe it adds valuable nutritional elements to their daily diet, which they don’t want to miss by skipping dairy products out of their eating pattern, and is easier to digest. Is this your experience too?

At DSM we supply enzymes and vitamins for lactose-free and healthy dairy. In addition, we have the most extensive portfolio of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins in the industry. Like all DSM solutions, our vitamins – whether as straights or in a customized premix – are of the highest quality. We have been working with customers all around the world to successfully innovate and evolve this category beyond lactose-intolerance. Drop me an email and I would be delighted to talk with you about your specific lactose-free questions or requirements.

1 DSM Dairy Global Insight Series: Lactose-free dairy, 2016
2 De Vrese M, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73 (suppl):421s–9s.
3 Mintel Global New Product Database. Available online: (accessed on 02-2019)

Food Fact

The lactose-free trend continues to grow with increased focus on fortification. In 2018, nearly half (45%) of all lactose-free UHT milk launches were mineral/vitamin fortified.

DSM Solution

Enabling lactose-free dairy that tastes great with Maxilact®LGi, the cleanest classical lactase and Maxilact®Smart, the lactase with an impact on production efficiency. DSM vitamins of the highest quality.

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Published on

07 July 2019