From a fringe fixation to a popular mass movement, vegetarianism has undergone a sea change in the last couple of years. If we analyze the critical ingredient trends 2021, there has been a phenomenal rise in the popularity of plant-based foods.
Vegan players like Beyond Meat, Gardien, Morningstar, and Impossible Foods have taken the global food and beverage market by storm. Small, regional brands are also targeting consumers in their vicinity. Consumers are avoiding animal products, especially red meat and dairy, more than ever before. Apart from vegans, the popularity of flexitarians who consume very little meat and dairy is also noteworthy.
Here are the top 6 reasons for the popularity of plant-based foods:
The Health Food Revolution:
In many ways, the health food revolution sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic has translated into the plant foods revolution. Multiple researchers have highlighted a strong correlation between comorbidities, poor immunity, and the frequent consumption of red meat. Thus, consumers have been looking for viable meat alternatives with the same satiety value and protein quality.
Organizations like PETA have been advocating veganism for over four decades now. With the proliferation of social media, their outreach is much higher. An increasing number of consumers have been made aware of rampant animal cruelty in mass-scale meat and dairy production. It has directly affected the ingredient trends in 2021, with a rise in demand for plant-sourced ingredients.
This factor is the latest entrant amongst the reasons attributed to the plant-based market boom. The comparative ecological sustainability of plant-based foods versus animal-based foods was virtually unheard of earlier. Today, consumers are highly aware of their dietary labels, especially in terms of sustainability. There is a conscious shift towards opting for foods that have a lower carbon footprint. Food and beverage products sourced from plants are therefore gaining prominence.
Plant-based food market research has revealed that the rising instances of lactose intolerance are also a significant factor contributing to the vegan movement. In response to the high demand for dairy substitutes, vegan food manufacturers are developing innovative plant-based milk and milk products. The nutritional value, taste, and pricing now align with consumer requirements, whether cashew milk mozzarella, almond butter, tofu, or soy milk.
3-D Food Printing and other Food Science Innovations:
The reasons mentioned above we have discussed so far have arisen from the consumer’s end. But from the food industry’s perspective, the advancement and finesse in the production of mock meat products have fuelled consumer demand. The consumer appetite has witnessed a boost in the wake of science in food innovation like 3D food printing. They are more than happy to shun animal products and embrace the healthier alternative with authentic taste, flavour, aroma, juiciness, and bite in plant-based meats.
Spike in Animal Foods Price:
Due to the massive supply chain disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, meat and meat products witnessed a surge in pricing. At the same time, the price of plant-based meats has gradually reduced over the years. This is yet another small but significant factor that has contributed to the vegetarianism trend.
Recent plant-based food market research has yielded some startling insights. Surprisingly, consumers showed distaste around two decades back when meat substitutes were introduced. Avid meat-eaters were disappointed with the bland taste and off-flavor. Over the years, the overall satiation, authenticity, and affordability have remarkably improved. Most importantly, mock meat’s nutritional value and protein quality are being set at par with conventional meat products. With myriad reasons backing the popularity of plant-based foods, this is not a temporary market boom but a long-term one with fantastic prospects.