Lactose intolerance is a condition where the body is unable to digest lactose, a sugar present in milk. Lactose-free food products are meant for people with lactose intolerance. They are easy to digest and exhibit an enhanced bioavailability. Lactose-free products are formulated with zero or reduced lactose content to provide nutritional benefits without any negative reactions on the body. The global market for lactose-free food can be divided on the basis of product types into the following categories: lactose-free dairy, lactose-free milk formula, and lactose-free ice cream. Lactose-free dairy held the dominant share of one-thirds of the total market in 2015, which is attributed to the increasing population of consumers suffering lactose intolerance, especially in North America and Europe, which is expected to drive this segment significantly over the forecast period. Lactose-free milk formula is also rapidly emerging owing to a growing number of people seeking the nutritional value of milk in their daily diet.
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Major propellants of the global lactose-free food market include a surge in the incidence of lactose intolerance caused by the inability to digest milk sugar lactose among consumers. This is triggering the demand for lactose-free food globally. In addition, increasing cases of food allergies from products containing lactose is a major influence on this market. Easy digestibility and improved bioavailability of lactose-free food play an important role too, apart from the introduction of lactose-free ice cream. Stiff competition from dairy alternatives such as cereals and nuts, however, hinders this market, which is ascribed to a proliferation of consumers who prefer to avoid dairy products altogether as they are sensitive to not just milk sugar lactose, but also to dairy proteins. Emerging countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and India are anticipated to offer great opportunities in the future for the lactose-free food market.
Key players of the global lactose-free food products market include McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, Cargill, Inc., Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Inc., Green Valley Organics, Edlong Dairy Technologies, and Crowley Foods in the U.S., Arla Foods in Denmark, OMIRA Oberland-Milchverwertung in Germany, Parmalat SpA in Italy, Valio Ltd. in Finland, Alpro in Belgium, Daiya Foods Inc. in Canada, Doves Farm Foods Ltd in the U.K., Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited in New Zealand, and Kerry Group in Ireland.