One nondairy “milk” option is having a disappointing start to the new year. Coconut milk has been removed from menus at Dunkin’ locations nationwide.

The country’s largest donut restaurant chain operates more than 9,500 locations across 43 states and Washington, D.C. It offers a variety of coffee and non-coffee drinks, which, until recently, included a line of drinks that blended coconut milk with flavored iced teas.

A number of coffee establishments have long charged customers extra for substituting some plant-based milk alternatives in their drinks because those beverages are generally more expensive than real milk. Dunkin’ has not specified the reason for removing the coconut option from their nondairy lineup, but one factor could be because it is often the most expensive of the common plant-based alternatives.

It is also not as popular as the others. Almond, by far, tops the plant-based milk beverage category in the U.S. by sales numbers, followed by oat, soy, and then coconut. The coconut beverage was just added to the Dunkin’ menu in 2021. But data from the market research company Technomic suggests that only about 1% of the restaurant’s customers had tried it. Comparatively, about 5% to 7% have ordered the almond option, and 3% have opted for oat.

Plant-based milk sales have expanded in recent years, though the markets of some individual products have gyrated as consumers are exposed to a variety of options that may rise and then quickly fall. Data shows that many of the households that purchase plant-based milks also purchase real milk.

Dunkin’ will continue to offer almond and oat alternatives. Still, it is satisfying for the dairy community to see a large company take this step that supports real dairy products.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
January 11, 2024
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