Soy drinks have become more popular with Australians than energy drinks, sports drinks, iced teas or breakfast drinks, according to new data released by Roy Morgan Research.

In the 12 months to March 2016, 5.7 per cent of Australians aged 14 and over, or just over 1.1 million people, reported consuming at least one soy drink in any given seven day period. This is compared to  energy and sports drinks consumption which has slipped since 2012, the proportion of Aussies drinking soy beverages is up over the same period.

Soy drinks were slightly ahead of those who consumed energy drinks (5.6 per cent), followed by sports drinks (5.6 per cent), iced tea (4.7 per cent) and breakfast drinks (4.7 per cent).

Admittedly, the increase has been fractional (from 5.3 per cent), but even so, this does represent an extra 115,000 people drinking soy milk at least once per week.

“While soy drink consumption shows no sign of challenging regular dairy milk (which is drunk by 44.4% per cent of the population in an average seven days), it does occupy a certain niche in the non-alcoholic beverage market, with slightly more consumers than energy and sports drinks,” Norman Morris, industry communications director, Roy Morgan Research, said.

Soy drink consumption compared to other beverages, 2012 vs 2016

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Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2011-March 2012 (n=19,690) and April 2015-March 2016 (n=15,074).

Australia’s soy drinkers
ACT residents lead the country for soy drink consumption, according to Roy Morgan, with 9.3 per cent drinking it in an average seven days; ahead of Melburnians (8.3 per cent) and Sydneysiders (6 per cent).

Lagging behind the other capital cities is Hobart, where only 3.8 per cent of residents drink soy beverages. Overall, capital city dwellers (6.3 per cent) are more likely than country residents (4.6 per cent) to opt for soy drinks.

Not surprisingly, consumption is well above average among people who ‘avoid dairy foods wherever possible’ (16.4 per cent) as well as those for who say ‘Milk/Dairy products do not agree with me’ (15.4 per cent). It is also elevated (13.5 per cent) among people who report that ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian.’

However, Roy Morgan’s figures show that dairy and soy milk consumption are not as mutually exclusive as one might think. Almost one third (31.3 per cent) of Australians who consume soy drinks in an average seven days also drink regular fresh white milk in that time.

Even among soy drinkers who have issues with dairy, there is a surprising rate of dairy-milk consumption. Some 13.4 per cent of soy drinkers who ‘avoid dairy foods wherever possible,’ and 15.8 per cent of those who say that ‘milk/dairy products don’t agree’ with them, drink regular milk as well as soy.

“With other non-dairy milks such as rice, coconut and almond milk becoming increasingly available, soy drink brands need to identify exactly who is most likely to buy their product and why, and ensure that they continue to engage with and appeal to these consumers especially as the non-dairy milk market broadens,” Mr Morris said.

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