The Plant Based Trends of Tomorrow

The Plant Based Trends of Tomorrow

The Plant Based Trends of Tomorrow 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

There are an estimated 88 million vegans in the world, and while that’s just 1% of the global population, there’s growing consensus that plant-based trends are only gaining momentum as more consumers are prioritizing their health and the environment with their purchase decisions.

Though it seems like a recent buzzword, veganism is hardly new. The term wasn’t coined until the 1940s, but the concept of abstaining from the use of animal products can be traced back nearly 2,000 years to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies, according to The Vegan Society.

Today, the vegan market offers an incredible variety of plant-based foods and meat alternatives. Consider vegan salmon, vegan tuna, plant-based ground meat, dairy cheese alternatives, and cell-based meat, for example. Analysts say the vegan food market in particular is poised to experience significant growth, from $17 billion in 2022 to $31 billion by 2028.

Veganized options are also finding their way to every aisle in the store—from desserts and cosmetics to vitamins, clothing, and more. But what’s motivating the movement, and most importantly, how can restaurants, grocers, and manufacturers take advantage of plant-based trends while enhancing their brand’s reputation for offering high-quality foods? By focusing on product innovation, culinary creativity, and addressing the taste expectations of consumers. Read on to learn how we got to this moment in veganism and how to prepare for consumers’ future demands today.

Behind the Plant Based Eating Movement

Health considerations have been one of the greatest factors driving the movement toward plant based eating. The push to take control of one’s health; a growing desire to reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture; and the Internet spreading awareness have collectively fueled the rapid growth and mainstream acceptance of a veganized lifestyle.

While a recent report shows that nearly 10% of the U.S. population considers themselves vegan or vegetarian, a whopping 1 in 3 people say they are flexitarians, eating mostly a vegetarian diet with the occasional serving of meat. Among the Gen Z population, 79% choose to go meatless at least one day a week, and 65% say they want a diet that incorporates more plants and less meat. By offering a diverse range of plant-based options that can accommodate flexitarians’ desire for more plant-centric meals while still providing meat choices, restaurants, and grocers can attract and satisfy this growing segment of the population.

Plant Based Trends

Turning Toward Health + Wellness

A report published by San Francisco-based Grand View Research identifies the recent pandemic as a significant driver of plant-based market growth. We saw more consumers becoming health conscious during that time. Today, more Americans continue to express their curiosity in lifestyle changes.

Restaurants and grocery stores alike can capitalize on this moment of consumer interest in health and wellness. A survey of more than 2,000 adults by food brand Amy’s Kitchen found that 52% of respondents were “vegan-curious.” Many respondents revealed they want shortcuts to preparing plant-based meals. Their main motivation? To improve health. (Environmental reasons and taste preferences were the runners-up.)

On the front lines in restaurants, 89% of chefs have seen growing consumer interest in plant-based trends, according to GEA, a global supplier of systems and components to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Nearly 33% of U.S. restaurants now regularly list plant-based items on their menus.

­­­­Inflation and food costs getting you down? Many people across the globe are looking to a vegan lifestyle to spend less money on meat and dairy products. Consumer research indicates that 66% of consumers aged 16 to 40 across 10 countries intend to spend more on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in the future. With food costs jumping globally, the Good Food Institute predicts that by the end of this year, plant-based meat may be less expensive than traditional versions of meat.

What’s stopping more consumers from experimenting with vegan options? Taste, according to market researcher Mintel. Research shows 53% of consumers agree that plant-based protein products should taste like meat. That research also revealed that many consumers have a perception that plant-based products won’t taste indistinguishable from meat or that they have tried plant-based products once or twice and haven’t continued because of this taste difference.

Plant Based Trends

Plant Powered Progress

Embracing the expanding scope of veganism, restaurants, grocers and food manufacturers are taking the lead and running with the opportunities presented by the growing demand for plant-based options.

Whole Foods has introduced vegan tuna and vegan salmon sashimi made from konjac, a vegetable root, to its in-store sushi counters. Panda Express began offering orange chicken made with Beyond Chicken on menus at some U.S. locations. Peet’s Coffee vegged out with a vegan breakfast sandwich made with Just Egg, a mung-bean-based alternative.

In June 2023, U.S. start-ups Upside Foods and GOOD Meat received full FDA and USDA approval to sell chicken produced in a lab from animal cells. The full regulatory approval means that the agency considers slaughter-free chicken safe to produce, sell, serve, and eat—although it will probably be years before you see the lab-produced meat in grocery stores.

Across the pond in Europe, a new plant-based paracetamol could pave the way for more veganized mass-market pharmaceutical products. Paracetamol is an over-the-counter painkiller that can also be used as a fever reducer. Created by the company Axunio, Paraveganio is a vegan version of the medicine now for sale in Germany.

U.S.-based start-up Climax Foods is working to recreate the world’s most desired food (cheese, of course) by using “deep plant intelligence” to explore the molecular structure of artisanal cheeses. On the horizon are dairy cheese alternatives to favorites like Blue, Brie, and Feta that are made with seeds, legumes, and plant oils—coming soon to menus near you.

plant-based trends

Tips to Capitalize on the Vegan Movement

Here are some additional tips that businesses can consider to capitalize on the vegan movement and enhance their brands:

Emphasize flavor and taste. Invest in research and development to create plant-based products that not only meet consumers’ ethical and environmental concerns but also deliver exceptional taste and flavor. Focus on developing innovative cooking techniques, seasoning blends and texture profiles to make plant-based options more appealing and satisfying.

Offer variety and options. Provide a diverse range of vegan choices to cater to different dietary preferences and tastes. Include a variety of plant-based proteins, dairy alternatives and plant-based substitutes for popular dishes. Consider offering customizable options, allowing customers to create their own vegan meals based on their preferences.

Collaborate with chefs and influencers. Partner with renowned chefs, food influencers and nutrition experts who specialize in vegan cuisine. Their expertise and endorsements can help promote your vegan offerings and attract a broader customer base. Collaborations can also bring fresh ideas, unique recipes, and culinary creativity to your menu.

Promote transparency and sustainability. Highlight the sourcing and sustainability aspects of your vegan products. Provide information about the origins of ingredients, ethical farming practices and environmentally-friendly packaging. Being transparent about your commitment to sustainability can resonate with conscious consumers and build trust in your brand.

Educate and engage customers. Organize cooking workshops, tasting events or educational sessions to educate customers about the benefits of veganism, cooking techniques and the wide range of plant-based options available. Engage with customers through social media platforms to share recipes, success stories and answer their questions.

Collaborate with local suppliers. Partner with local farmers and suppliers to source fresh, seasonal and locally-grown ingredients for your vegan offerings. Highlight the support for local communities and the reduced carbon footprint associated with sourcing locally.

Highlight your vegan options. Clearly label vegan options on your menu and online platforms. Make sure they are easily identifiable and well-promoted to attract both vegans and those looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet. Consider adding vegan symbols or icons to make it visually appealing and intuitive for customers.

Understanding your target audience, staying updated with the latest plant-based trends, and continuously adapting and improving your offerings will help your business thrive in the expanding vegan market.

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