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A major US dairy brand has launched a vegan line in a bid to meet changing consumer tastes.

California-based McConnell’s Dairy, which was founded 70 years ago, has created a range of dairy-free ice-cream, using a pea protein base.

The ice-cream, which is sold in Gelson’s and Bristol Farms and is set to launch in more speciality stores in coming months, comes in five flavors; dark chocolate chip, toasted coconut almond chip, cookies & cream, turkish coffee, and eureka lemon & marionberries. It retails for around $7.50.

Plant-based is growing

McConnell’s CEO Michael Palmer told food outlet NOSH: “People really didn’t expect it from McConnell’s…But we would never avoid or look the other way at the fact that though [plant-based] is still a very small category, it’s growing.”

Speaking about the use of pea protein, as opposed to the more ubiquitous almond or coconut, he said: “We don’t want to be followers. In a category that is so little relative to innovation, we don’t believe innovating is following someone else who innovated just to get market share.”

He adds that the non-dairy version (which the company brands a ‘frozen dessert’ rather than ice-cream) is lower in fat, sugar and cholesterol than its traditional counterpart.

Milk sales

The launch follows declining dairy sales, and a report published by market research company Mintel last March revealed that sales of dairy milk will continue to decline over the next two years.

According to Mintel, part of the drop can be attributed to a growing awareness around how unhealthy consuming cow’s milk can be for humans.

As dairy milk sales continue to decline, plant milk sales keep increasing, with the market predicted to surpass $34 billion by 2024.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.