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State of Almond Milk Prices: Wholesale Restaurant Food Cost Trends

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Justin GuinnAuthor

Almond milk prices may not be top of mind for most restaurants — fine dining, bistros, pizzerias, delis, etc. — but they’re certainly on the minds of coffee shop and cafe owners.

Non-dairy milk and plant-based milk options have surged in popularity in recent years. Almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and even coconut milk and cashew milk are featuring on cafe menus and in guest’s coffee drinks across the country.

The novelty of these lactose-free milk alternatives isn’t lost in the average prices restaurants pay for them. That’s why it’s essential that operators keep track of almond milk costs and take heed of milk market trends and factors that impact wholesale prices.

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Toast is the point of sale system built for restaurants.

We're able to calculate the average monthly prices that coffee shops, cafes, and other restaurants pay for almond milk by using proprietary data from xtraCHEF by Toast, our invoice automation and recipe costing tool.

The average national price that restaurants paid for a gallon of almond milk is $6.56 in July.

Here's a breakdown of historical data on wholesale restaurant almond milk prices over the last year:

Restaurant almond milk prices have undergone some substantial volatility in the past 12 months — ranging from a low price of $5.66 in November 2022 to a high of $7.52 in March 2023.

Here's a breakdown of recent month-over-month fluctuation in wholesale restaurant almond milk prices:

Almond milk prices have calmed down since April, fluctuating by 3% or less.

Commodities experts weigh in on almond milk prices

We were able to speak with some experts in the food commodities space to understand their analysis on almond milk price trends and the impacts on restaurants. 

Question

What’s driving the volatility in almond, oat, and coconut milk prices — and how may coffee shops and cafe owners expect almond, oat, and coconut milk to trend in the future?

As inflationary pressures have eased, volume recovery has been mixed across different alternative milk products. Coconut and oat milk volume are experiencing a faster recovery than almond. Alternative milk products continue to be popular with consumers, but the increased number of product choices is dividing the market share within the industry. Oat milk has been a high growth product in recent years, but growth appears to be slowing. Almond milk remains the market leader of alternative milks, but trendy, new products could continue to erode its market share.

Courtney Schmidt
Courtney Schmidt
Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute

Importance of offering dairy-free milk options for Today's Customers

Offering dairy-free milk options has become increasingly important for cafe, coffee shop, and restaurant operators. 

Customers are becoming more health-conscious, and there is a growing demand for plant-based alternatives due to dietary restrictions, ethical concerns, and environmental impact. Providing dairy-free milk options allows operators to cater to these customer bases and accommodate their diverse preferences.

By offering dairy-free milk options such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or coconut milk, operators can tap into the increasing number of customers who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or simply choose to follow a vegan or plant-based diet. 

These customers often seek alternative milk options for their coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, and other menu items. Failing to offer dairy-free alternatives may result in losing potential customers and missing out on revenue opportunities.

This can help display a commitment to serving a diverse customer base and keeping up with consumer trends in the food industry. Offering a variety of dairy-free options can also set operators apart from their competitors and attract customers who prioritize health and sustainability.

Uses of almond and other milk substitutes

Almond milk, along with other milk substitutes, has gained popularity in recent years due to its various uses and health benefits. Cafe, coffee shop, and restaurant operators can utilize these milk alternatives in a wide range of menu items to cater to customer preferences and dietary restrictions.

Almond milk, made from ground almonds and water, has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.

Along with oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and others, almond milk can be a versatile milk substitute that can be used as a dairy-free creamer alternative in coffee beverages, like lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. Almond milk can also be incorporated into smoothies, milkshakes, ice cream, and baked goods, providing a unique flavor profile and enhancing the overall taste experience.

It is essential for operators to source high-quality dairy-free milk alternatives from reputable suppliers. This ensures consistency in taste, texture, and quality, which will contribute to customer satisfaction and prevent any negative feedback regarding dairy-free options. Additionally, operators should consider price points and negotiate wholesale milk prices to ensure that offering dairy-free options is financially viable.

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Exploring different types of almond milks

Almond milk has gained popularity as a dairy alternative due to its unique flavor, versatility, and potential health benefits. When considering almond milk options, it's important to understand the variations available in the market today. Here are three types worth exploring:

1. Organic Almond Milk — Organic almond milk is made from almonds that have been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This type of almond milk appeals to individuals who prioritize consuming organic products and seek the reassurance of a more natural and eco-friendly choice.

2. Unsweetened Almond Milk — Unsweetened almond milk is a variant that contains little to no added sugars, making it an excellent choice for those watching their sugar intake or following a low-sugar diet. Despite its lack of sweetness, unsweetened almond milk still maintains its creamy texture and can be used in various recipes and beverages.

3. Shelf Stable Almond Milk — Shelf stable almond milk is a convenient option that can be stored at room temperature for an extended period, without the need for refrigeration until opened. This type of almond milk is often an ideal choice for travel, camping trips, or keeping a backup supply at hand. Nonetheless, once opened, shelf stable almond milk should be refrigerated and consumed within a specific period, as indicated on the packaging.

Almond milk variants, regardless of type, are known for being a nutrient-packed beverage. They typically contain essential nutrients, which can include calcium and vitamin E. Additionally, almond milk is naturally lactose-free, making it a suitable cow's milk alternative for individuals who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.

When selecting almond milk, be mindful of additives and choose options that are free from unnecessary ingredients. While almond milk is naturally low in calories and fat, some commercial brands may include additives such as stabilizers, emulsifiers, or sweeteners.

Almond milk can offer a variety of options to cater to different dietary requirements and preferences. Whether restaurant operators opt for organic almond milk, unsweetened almond milk, or shelf-stable almond milk, be sure to consider factors such as organic certification, sweetness levels, storage needs, nutrient fortification, and additives. With a wide range of almond milk products available, enjoying the benefits of this popular dairy alternative may be easier than ever.

Start tracking almond milk prices today

Almond milk can be a workhorse in your coffee shop, cafe, and bakery — which is why tracking almond milk prices — and all ingredient costs — is essential. That’s why restaurant  operators should consider having a strong back-of-house foundation built on invoice automation.

Invoices are the single source of truth for restaurant costs — pinpointing prices and fluctuations for individual ingredients as well as paper goods, non-alcoholic beverages, and more.

With accurate and up-to-date ingredient prices from invoices, operators can start calculating plate costs. Plate costing is a detailed exercise that zooms into the recipes and/or individual ingredients that make up a dish — requiring detailed recipe costs and portion costs for ingredients.

Costing exercises can help show how each component is contributing to the overall profitability of a dish or drink. And recipe costing software can help make it easier to calculate and achieve an ideal balance between portions and profits.


Methodology

Toast analyzed monthly invoice items for almond milk from restaurants using xtraCHEF by Toast. Items are weighted by the frequency of orders, not quantity. A standard unit of measure is determined so that an average price can be calculated across all invoice inclusions of the ingredient.

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