The short just answer to the latest trend disrupting the food industry is – yes, it does promote sustainability and reduces CO2 emissions. But, is the only reason? The answer is definitely no.
The growing awareness about plant-based diets and its increased adoption is attributed to environmental sustainability, concerns about health and wellness, the shift towards green lifestyle and eating habits, and dietary restrictions. Veganism today is no longer considered just a fad but a lifestyle. People are shifting to flexitarian, vegan, and locally sourced food diets, simultaneously enabling environmental sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint. According to a study conducted by Blue Horizon Corporation and PwC, if 10% of the global meat-consuming population shifts to plant-based diets, it could potentially reduce 176 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, save 8.6 billion cubic meters of water, and free 38 million hectares of land every year.
Furthermore, the shift to this diet opens up new exciting opportunities for vendors focused on offering plant-based proteins such as plant-based meat and plant-based cheese in the global market.
The Advent of Plant-Based Protein
Arizton’s latest report on the plant-based protein market is projected to realize an absolute growth of around 66% by 2025. The demand for plant-based protein has been exhibiting a steady growth due to growing consumer awareness, as a result of various studies and researches, and recommendations by global health authorities. Recently, the government bodies in the UAE and New Zealand have expressed interest in launching nationwide initiatives to promote awareness and adoption of plant-based nutrition. Several other countries are encouraging vendors and ancillary industries to introduce plant-based food options for customers.
The ‘Impossible Whopper’, a plant-based alternative by Burger King made with Impossible Food’s burger patty is one of such several options introduced in the market to promote the adoption of plant-based diets. From fast-food chains to fine dining restaurants, from supermarkets to the local grocery stores everyone is stocking up and offering vegan options to tap into the large plant-based protein customers.
In general, plant-based protein consumption has grown rapidly in developed markets, such as, the US, the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, while in developing markets such as, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia, the demand plant-based market is at an initial growth stage.
Rise of Alternative Meat Options
Meat production is associated with environmental impacts and, in particular, greenhouse emission. Approximately 15% of greenhouse‑gas emissions come from livestock production, of which 40% is due to beef and dairy farming. Hence, innovations involving plant-based alternatives that include soy-based tofu, wheat-based seitan, and veggie burger meats are being introduced in the global market. The global meat alternative market is currently comprised of 1% of the global meat market in 2019. With rising interest, the global meat alternatives, which include both plant-based meat and lab-grown meat alternatives, are expected to comprise 10% of the market share by 2029.
Moreover, plant-based diets increase health benefits that help improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, eliminate excess sugar, boost the intake of fibers, and decrease inflammation. When some of the world’s largest meat-producing companies, such as Cargill and Tyson Foods are investing in R&D for sustainable protein alternatives. Hence proving that there is some merit to the shift towards the ‘fake meat’ options.
The World of Plant-based Cheeses
Lactose intolerance and the introduction of vegan cheese alternatives opened the world of plant-based cheese in the global market. The whole new world of cheese manufacturers is using plant-based ingredients such as soymilk, almond, and cashew milk to produce a similar cheesy product that resembles real dairy cheese in terms of flavor and texture. The shift in customer preferences to healthy, sustainable, and high nutrition food products will boost the adoption of plant-based dairy alternatives in the global market.
Did you know that plant-based cheese or vegan cheese accounted for approximately 6% of the global non-dairy milk market? And developed countries like the US and the UK are amongst the largest consumer of cheeses made of soymilk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and several others. Such large-scale adoption of plant-based cheese is disrupting the food industry and enabling food tech to take the front seat in a lot of innovations.
Though sustainability is a key factor encouraging consumers to adopt plant-based diets, tastes, texture, and flavors are also not taking a backseat in this shift. Furthermore, the shift is creating a whole new eco-system of locally sourced, eco-friendly, plant-based foods in the global market. This is will also have a significant cascading effect on the other ancillary industries. Going plant-based is not only helping save the planet but, opening doors to a brave new world.
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