£2.3bn lactose-free opportunity for coffee shops

A survey of self-diagnosed and medically diagnosed lactose intolerant adults in the UK has revealed that 81% of respondents would purchase hot drinks from coffee shops on average 20 times more each month if they offered a wider choice of lactose-free options.

With an average hot drink spend of £2.83 per visit, and an estimated 8% of the adult population identifying as lactose intolerant, this equates to a potential monthly spend of more than £195m, or £2.3 billion annually, said foodservice business Arla Pro, which conducted the research.

Almost 60% of those quizzed admitted they drink their coffee black out of necessity, not preference.

Some surveys have shown that up to one in five Brits will ditch dairy products this year. Research by Kantar Worldpanel for The Grocer, published in March, suggested that the popularity of vegan diets and an increase in lactose intolerance was resulting in more and more people switching to dairy-free products.

A Food Standards Agency survey in 2017 found that nearly half (46%) of 16-24 year olds said they had an intolerance to cow's milk and dairy products, compared to just 8% of over-75s. However, only 24% had actually had their condition diagnosed by a doctor.

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