October 16, 2019
There’s no arguing that animal-based food alternatives are in high demand right now. We’ve heard all about plant-based milk products and how they’ve continued to grow since 2014. The plant-based milk category has grown 3.1% over the last year, while cow’s milk sales have gone down about 5%, according to Nielsen. But, milk alternatives aren’t the only category on the rise – plant-based protein and meat substitutes are projected to reach $5 billion (with a ‘b’) by 2020. This year, Beyond Burger – a plant-based burger that looks, cooks and smells like meat – saw sales more than double, and shares jumped 21% in June.
Fast food chains are even jumping on the plant-based train. In 2019, the Impossible Burger – another meat alternative that is a blend of soy and potato proteins – announced partnerships with Burger King, Subway and Qdoba, while McDonald’s and KFC joined forces with Beyond Burger.
Another trending meat alternative is the hybrid meat-plant burger for consumers that are looking to reduce their meat intake, but not eliminate it. This trend is growing as more people are reducing their meat consumption but not going vegetarian or vegan. One brand that is leading the hybrid movement is Applegate (client). Their “Great Organic Blend Burger” launched in March 2019 is made for the “conscious carnivore” and features a blend of humanely raised organic meat or poultry, organic mushrooms and rosemary extract.
So, the question is, why is this new food trend booming right now?
Consumers are doubling down on protein.
Dietary trends like keto and paleo are driving demand for protein, as well as consumer interest in healthier lifestyles and wellness regimes that require more protein to fuel them. Meat substitutes and hybrids are packed with plant-based protein. Although beef and plant-based burgers are similar in calories, hovering at right around 250 per patty, plant-based and hybrid options offer consumers quality protein and their daily dose of veggies in a single patty.
Consumers want to help the environment.
A recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that a majority of Americans say climate change is a major problem or a crisis and about 8 in 10 say that human activity is fueling climate change. Increasingly concerned with their impact on the planet, consumers want food products that taste good, but also lower their carbon footprint.
Conclusion – we are becoming more conscious consumers.
All in all, these meat alternatives have changed the way we eat – and made us realize what consumers value. Whether it’s for environmental reasons, health reasons, or simply because they want to eat more veggies (like me!), these consumer ideals have become a catalyst for a more conscious industry. To stay relevant and build trust, brands should be talking to their customers about where their ingredients come from, what farms are producing their products and how they’re working to reduce their environmental impact.
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