What is driving plant-based sales?
According to Club PAI, the Paris-based ingredients and suppliers association, the “vegetable era” has seen demand for plant based options increase “from flexitarians to vegans”.
“There are different drivers that explain the switch for plant-based food: taste, animal welfare, culture or religion and health,” Sophie de Raynal, marketing manager, told FoodNavigator. “Plant-based proteins are mostly appealing for women and Generation Y and Z.”
According to research provider Globaldata 23% of global population is flexitarian, 5% is vegetarian and 2% is vegan.
Superfoods pack health punch
In particular, de Raynal told FoodNavigator that consumers are looking for “naturally healthy food” and “superfoods” which are high in nutrients.
“In 2018, the most famous superfoods are: coconut, avocado, beetroot, turmeric, nuts (mainly almonds, cashew), seeds (flaxseed, sunflower seed, sesame, chia), fermented food (Kefir, Skyr, kombucha, Kimchi), kale, spinach, cranberries, golden berries, cranberries.”
De Raynal said that this provides food manufacturers and ingredients suppliers with an important opportunity. “Consumers are always looking for new sensory experiences, so new ingredients that could add texture, mouthfeel, taste, [or] colour … in a natural and healthy way will be the next star.”
Looking to future trends, de Raynal flagged demand growth for alternative proteins that are seen as more environmentally friendly. These indluce seaweed, in-vitro meat and insects, she suggested.
Meat consumption evolving
According to PAI, the way meat is consumed and produced is evolving – and so are the strategies employed by companies operating in the meat and dairy sector.
While plant-based demand continues to gain steam “the planet won’t be totally vegan, even by 2050”, de Raynal said.
She forecasts that the consumption of meat – particularly red meat – will “continue to decline” but suggested that “the quality of meat will grow”.
“We can already see that ancient cow breed and low-cuts of meat are back on stage.”
Innovation is adding fuel to the flames and supporting ongoing expansion of plant-based sales. This is prompting increased activity from the big players in conventional protein – which is itself feeding back into higher levels of innovation, PAI suggested.
“As the number of product launches is still growing, the market will keep on growing. All the big companies involved in animal-based products (milk or meat) are launching plant-based products, which is a sign of the importance of the trend. But we will still eat meat in future next decades."