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With the free-from market growing exponentially, take a look at why expanding your milk offering is key to maximising the UK’s untapped market of coffee lovers.

Coffee sales currently create £9.6 billion in revenue in the UK, a figure which is expected to increase to £13 billion by 2022*. Yet despite the market soaring, there still remains an untapped market of coffee drinkers, offering a significant, potential income for coffee & restaurant operators.

With quality coffee available to purchase on every high street, consumer’s standards are continuing to rise, with the spotlight on every component of the drink – especially the milk. As the top three hot drinks for UK consumers are currently lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate*, milk is a key ingredient when it comes to delivering the good quality taste, texture, and appearance that consumers have grown to love and expect.

An untapped market

In the last three years, Arla has seen consistent double digit growth in UK sales of lactose free products for consumption in the home. It’s estimated that 8% of people in the UK are lactose intolerant**, and recent research undertaken by Arla Pro has revealed that 81% of these customers would purchase coffee 20 times more each month if they were offered a wider choice of lactose free options.

In addition to lactose intolerant consumers, there is further demand from coffee drinkers who are lactose free as a lifestyle choice. This represents a substantial opportunity for the out of home market to maximise on sales by broadening their menu.

Compromising on taste

When purchasing coffee, 89% of lactose intolerant consumers say milk is important to the taste, texture, and appearance of the drink. And while plant-based alternatives, such as soy and almond milk, may be lactose free, - they lack the goodness and the unique taste found in dairy. In fact, a third of consumers said that they would opt for plant-based options out of necessity rather than choice, with 58% resorting to black coffee, and 15% avoiding tea and coffee completely when dining out.

The lack of options for lactose free consumers has created a gap in the market for those where coffee is a key revenue stream. Serving a high quality cup of lactose free coffee has the potential to give a business an edge over its competitors, helping them to capture a small army of loyal coffee drinker


Introducing Arla Lactofree

A series of performance tests shows that Arla Lactofree (made from cow’s milk but specially treated to remove the lactose) outperforms existing non-dairy alternatives on the market including soya, almond, and coconut milk products when it comes to visual appearance, length of hold, implication on taste, and brightness of sheen.

Making coffee with plant- based dairy alternatives can cause frustration for baristas – they can split and destroy the much-loved, carefully crafted patterns on the top of drinks. Lactofree however shows no visual difference to standard fresh milk, ensuring a high-quality finish. It steams and foams consistently with no splitting and it creates the small tight microfoam, which is required to achieve the intricate latte art that consumers love.


The importance of milk is something all true coffee lovers know well, and Arla believes that no customer should have to compromise on the quality of that anticipated cappuccino with breakfast, or a smooth, foamy latte after a meal.  Coffees made with Lactofree taste the same as those made with fresh milk, and with an estimated 8% of the UK population being lactose intolerant**, there is a clear and pressing opportunity for restaurant and hotel owners to maximise of the size of this opportunity. 

A Barista’s view

Ollie Sears – Professional SCA (Speciality Coffee Association) qualified Barista and trainer at North Star Coffee Roasters in Leeds says:


‘The coffee industry has seen significant growth over the last few years, and milk has played a real part in turning coffee into something that can be universally appreciated, not only for the taste, but for the variety of what you can do with it, especially with latte art.

‘Arla Lactofree gives coffee a shinier, longer lasting foam, that’s more likely to hold a pattern, so baristas can remain confident that the quality and longevity of foam won’t be compromised. It’s the ideal option for lactose free consumers, as it retains the fat and protein profile of milk, making the taste and appearance the same standard as coffee made with milk.

‘I’ve seen an increasing demand for dairy alternative products, and being able to create beautiful looking and tasting drinks for everybody can only mean a bigger loyal customer base.’


*Source: Allegra Project Café 2018 - Informa’s Agribusiness Intelligence

**​ Storhaug, 2017

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