Plant-based foods are not new-fangled and have played a crucial role in human health and nutrition for a long time. However, consumers have reflected a renewed interest and consider it a healthier alternative to meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy-based food products. It includes minimally processed fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, spices, legumes, fiber-rich, low cholesterol, and low-calorie options providing vital nutrients like proteins, calcium, and essential minerals to our body.
Changing Consumer Psychology
In recent years, the entire food industry has witnessed a drastic change in consumer preferences from meat-based to plant-based options. Veganism has almost become a rage or a revolution, especially post-COVID-19 pandemic, due to changing lifestyles and people being more conscious about their food and health. The double-digit growth in the number of vegan and plant-based food searches on the internet reflects the growing demand for plant-based diets worldwide. The daily consumption and nutritional requirements have become more ethical, and consumers are prioritizing healthier alternatives.
Awareness Driving the Consumer Base
We live in a world full of animal lovers and diet-conscious people who are very vocal about the benefits of plant-based and cruelty-free food options for the greater good. This global awareness has significantly triggered plant-based supplements and the food industry's growth and provided its consumers with cleaner, simpler, and more sustainable alternatives to meat-based, poultry, and dairy products. Plant-based food has rapidly become mainstream almost worldwide, and more people are concerned about how their food choices influence environmental health and the planet itself.
Apart from this, numerous organizations are providing their research and studies to point out the ills of meat-based diet consumption along with reflecting on the benefits of a plant-based diet in a long-term perspective. For instance, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information has published research that states that long-term consumption of red meat and processed meat products increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, colorectal cancer, diabetes, and total mortality in both men and women.
Also, with growing incidents of chronic lifestyle disorders, lactose intolerance, and animal protein sensitivity, plant-based food has been setting its way into the masses, and the target consumer base is constantly expanding for all the prominent food industry players across the globe.
Implication of Key Players
Global key players in the food industry, such as Nestle SA, General Mills, Premier Foods PLC, Tyson Foods Inc., and Keystone Natural Holdings, are highly enrapt in research and development of plant-based food products. They are launching new products frequently into the market to stay ahead of the competition and to provide their consumers with better and healthier food choices.
The plant-based food products are categorized into organic and conventional products. The products include plant-based milk, bakery, confectionery, juices, sweets, snacks, tea, and coffee, among others. Plant-based milk and other dairy alternatives are the most popular products in the plant-based food industry since 65% of the global population is lactose intolerant. However, the demand for plant-based juices is constantly rising along with already dominating products like tea and coffee.
Challenges Faced by the Plant-Based Food Industry
No matter how much deviance has been there globally, from meat-based to plant-based food, the competition remains due to structure, color, and flavor differences. There is cutthroat competition amongst the significant key players across the globe. Apart from this, sourcing raw ingredients and supplying high-quality plant-based food to consumers worldwide is a tedious task.
The global shift of consumer preference from meat-based to plant-based food products is a reality and the need of the hour. The demand for plant-based food products will grow even more in coming years, owing to rising human and environmental health issues. Key players are expected to focus on product improvement and matching them with meat-based products in terms of color, flavor, and structure to sustain the plant-based food market for the greater good. The global plant-based food product market size was valued at USD 5.06 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.3% from 2022 to 2030.