According to Nielsen and the Plant Based Foods Association, the past year saw sales of plant-based foods increase by 20% to reach a value in excess of $3.3bn. In addition, ‘Beyond Meat’ shares surged to 163% at the start of May, which is the strongest market debut so far this year. This plant-based pioneering meat company was founded in 2009 by CEO Ethan Brown, and the California-based company’s products first hit supermarket shelves four years later. Today the company is worth $3.4 billion. The company’s great success reflects intense customer demand in meat alternatives, which continues to rise.
The production of meat on factory farms produces tons of damaging greenhouse gases and has a direct impact on climate change. This continues to inspire food innovators to develop meat alternatives. Products like soy and almond milk, veggie burgers, fake chicken are very successful in the market, and prove that there is intense customer enthusiasm for plant-based meat alternatives. Added to this, new technological breakthroughs have made the replication of meat textures and flavors more successful.
A staggering 93% of ‘Beyond Meat’ customers buy ‘regular meat’ too, which serves as proof that plant-based products can also appeal to meat-eaters. The toll taken on the environment, natural resources, and animal welfare by the consumption of meat, as well as its connection with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, means that today consumers are enthused by plant-based alternatives. Many large food manufacturers have taken note of this trend. In September Nestle will start selling its own plant-based burgers. And in a similar fashion, Tyson Foods recently sold its stake in ‘Beyond Meat’ in favor of developing its own plant-based proteins.
GROWING ACCEPTANCE OF VEGANISM
Meat is steadily losing its power as the centrepiece of consumers’ diets. And the number of U.S. consumers identifying as vegan grew from 1% to 6% between 2014 and 2017, a 600% increase, according to GlobalData. It’s worth noting that the plant-based food trend naturally aligns with the broader cultural shift towards a focus on wellness and health functionality. And as new, innovative food and beverage manufacturers enter the food market, there is certainly many opportunities to help define the sector in its nascent stage.