Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

Devoted to dairy?

If you think that young people are the next big consumers of dairy alternatives, think again.

In October this year, twitter user @shine_with_love posted a humorous observation about the tendency of lactose-intolerant people to eat dairy, despite being fully aware of the intestinal discomfort that will follow. The post, pictured, received an astounding 188,000 likes and 64,000 retweets. What is it that resonated with so many people? The humour, of course, but to be funny it has to have an element of truth about it; it has to have that modern buzzword, ‘relatability’.

What is perhaps surprising is that these dairy devotees are mostly young people; around 70% of both Instagram and Tumblr users are under the age of 35, and 40% of Twitter users are under 30. This is where these viral posts are originating: the age group that is often stereotyped as leading the vegan trend. However, a brief conversation with even a non-lactose-intolerant teenager can end in the verdict ‘I could never be vegan – I love cheese too much.’

The comments of these posts are full of apparently lactose-intolerant people and their friends saying ‘I drink soy milk but I refuse to give up cheese,’ ‘I’m here for a good time not a long time,’ and ‘What is life without cheese though? These aren’t the only examples; a quick search on Instagram or Tumblr reveals an astonishing number of similar posts, all proclaiming the author’s dogged determination to brave the unpleasant effects of lactose intolerance for the sake of dairy.

While these fearless cheese-lovers almost certainly do not make up the majority of the 65% of lactose-intolerant people worldwide, they are clearly very common, especially in the US and Europe, where most of these posts come from. There is something about dairy that people are willing to suffer for. Particularly beloved are ice cream, milk and – toughest of all to give up – cheese.

The young, it seems, have a love affair with dairy, and many are unwilling to bow down to social pressure to be vegan, or even to gastrointestinal discomfort, if it means giving that up.


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Posted in Editorial, Mainsite

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