Sales of soya and non-dairy ice-cream are expanding by over 30% per year, making it the fastest growing segment in the European market for non-dairy desserts, according to a new report.

According to “The European Market for Non-Dairy Desserts,” increased distribution in mainstream retailers is driving market growth due to supermarkets expanding their free-from product ranges. The success of non-dairy drinks is leading retailers to introduce complementary products like yoghurts, ice-cream and puddings.

Research finds that although most demand is from consumers suffering from food allergies, a growing number of consumers are turning to dairy alternatives because of health concerns and ethical considerations regarding livestock products.

The new report on finds the largest markets are in the UK and France, which account for over 60% of total revenues. A wide range of products are available in supermarkets and specialist retailers in these countries. Soya yoghurts are the most popular partly because their fresh nature appeals to consumers seeking health foods.

Manufacturers are responding to elevated consumer demand by launching new products. The majority of desserts are soya-based, however new products are being developed using oats, rice and nuts to cater to consumers seeking non-soya dairy alternatives. New product launches in the last 18 months include oat-based and rice-based ice-creams.

Organic Monitor projects healthy market growth rates to continue in the coming years. The highest growth is envisaged in the German and Spanish markets, which are experiencing exceptionally high demand for dairy alternatives. Desserts are likely to follow the success of non-dairy drinks, the market for which has more than doubled between 2002 and 2005 in these countries.