Agroscope, Swiss Milk Producers SMP

How are Plant-Based Alternatives to Dairy Products Perceived and Who Consumes Them?

The range of plant-based alternatives to milk continues to rise. Agroscope and the SMP (Swiss Milk Producers) conducted an online survey to find out what products are being consumed and how they are perceived.

The consumption of high proportions of animal products contributes significantly to harmful greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately to climate change. A more plant-based diet could counteract this. The wide range of plant-based alternatives to milk and dairy products supports this transition. Consumption of these products has increased in recent years.

Survey on the consumption of plant-based alternatives to milk

An online survey conducted in the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland aimed to examine in detail which products are consumed by whom and for what reasons. A total of 1204 people were asked about their consumption or non-consumption of plant-based alternatives to milk, yoghurt and cream products.

Flexitarians frequently consume plant-based alternatives to milk

The survey showed that consumers of plant-based alternatives tended to be young, well-educated, urban flexitarians – in other words, people who are interested in eating less meat. The findings suggest that plant-based alternatives to dairy products are often consumed in conjunction with animal products.

Taste, health, sustainability and animal welfare are the main reasons

The most frequently consumed plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk were soya, almond and oat drinks. The main reasons given by participants for consuming these products were taste (26%), health (34%, including allergies and intolerances), dietary variety (12%) and animal welfare and sustainability (16%). People who did not consume plant-based dairy alternatives cited a lack of interest in these products (38%) or stated that they did not like the taste (25%).

The results of this survey have important implications for research and practice and provide a better understanding of the growing group of consumers who use plant-based alternatives to support a more sustainable diet.


  • Consumers of plant-based dairy alternatives tend to be young, well-educated, urban flexitarians.
  • The most frequently consumed alternatives to cow’s milk are soya, almond and oat drinks.
  • Main reasons for consuming plant-based dairy alternatives are their taste, contribution to health (including allergies and intolerances) and positive impact on the environment.
  • Plant-based dairy alternatives are often consumed in combination with animal products.
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