Why Plant Based is Booming
Plant based foods are taking the global marketplace by storm, and for good reason. People with a wide range of dietary preferences, from vegan to carnivores, are eating plant based. There are multiple drivers, and we will take a deeper dive into what is driving the change. However, the primary conclusion is that how and what people are eating is changing, and the change is towards plant based alternatives that fuel a healthier lifestyle.
Globally there is a disruption in the food chain, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate that process as people seek to find more local and non-meat sources of protein. People have become increasingly aware of the relationship between their food choices, their health, and the health of the planet.
Although the traditional western Sunday roast dinner may still happen as a special treat, what is also coming to the Sunday dinner table (or any day of the week dinner table) are special plant based treats, as well as plant based meat and dairy alternatives.
Plant Based Foods are Changing the Landscape
New meatless products and alternative protein products are beginning to impact more traditional food chains, particularly in the United States and Canada, where meat has always comprised a large part of people's diets. Meatless and alternative protein markets are predicted to be lucrative markets in the coming years, as awareness of vegan diets increases and more people are eating what is called a flexitarian diet. Business Insider spoke to experts who believe that flexitarians are driving the global shift to plant based eating.
A growing number of consumers are buying plant based products, but why?
There tend to be three primary reasons:
- The Environment
- Health/Wellness; and
- Animal Cruelty
Protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint is a significant driver of the plant based food industry.
Raising livestock contributes 18 percent of human-produced Greenhouse gas emissions globally. This is in addition to the many other environmental impacts raising livestock has, such as:
- Land and water degradation
- Biodiversity loss
- Acid rain (remember that thing from the 1980s; it's still around)
- Coral reef degradation; and
A very well-known, modern-day example of large-scale deforestation to support livestock farming was the burning of the Amazon rainforest this past year.
Individuals are also motivated by keeping the planet healthy, but they also want to keep themselves healthy. Even the most recent Canada Food Guide encourages people to shift towards a more plant based diet. Gone are the days of meat and dairy making up half of your diet.
To incorporate more plant based options into people's diets, the options must become mainstream and convenient. Many companies are leading the charge, from successful Canadian-based startups, like ourselves, to the big players in the traditional meat production industry.
When it comes to animal cruelty, there is a large movement against the traditional extensive farming techniques used to raise: cattle, pigs and chickens to feed the masses. I think we can all say that we have seen those horrible videos of chickens in tiny cages on YouTube. The information age has meant that much of what was hidden has come into the light, and when it comes to large-scale farming, we tend not to like what we see.
In many Asian and South Asian cultures, the concept of Ahimsa, or non-harming (even in the way you eat), has always played a significant role in people's decisions around the type of food they consume. These trends are now making it into the West as people become global citizens.
Where does that leave Plant Based?
Meat and dairy are not likely to disappear in the shorter term. However, some significant changes are coming as younger generations change the way they eat and the way they feed their children. Experts say that alternative plant based proteins and products will become a "meaningful part of diets across the U.S., Western Europe, and emerging markets" within the next ten years. This is a big deal. What is also a big deal is a recent press release out of the UK that in April of this year that spoke to the plant-based food market growing at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.
When I was growing up, I remember everyone drank 2% or Homogenized milk (3.25%), then when I was in high school, low fat was trending, so 1% and Skim Milk made an appearance. Now nut milks, or "mylks," are all the rage, and grocery stores are filled with non-dairy options for drinking and your coffee. And these plant based milk products are now comparably priced to their traditional milk competitors. Levelling the playing field. Researchers are predicting that alternative plant based products will take a similar trajectory to alternative dairy. Essentially, the plant based vegan market is set to explode in the coming years. At Vision, we feel we are well poised to take advantage.