Plant-based foods are growing fast across the globe and especially in Western markets. This boom is associated with a growing flexitarian consumer base. According to Euromonitor’s Health and Nutrition Survey, fielded in 2020, consumers who are restricting certain animal-based products, but not following a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, account for 42% of global consumers, while vegans and vegetarians constitute a much smaller group, accounting for 4% and 6%, respectively.
There is also a clear generational pattern among consumers restricting animal-based products from their diets with 54% of Generation Z avoiding meat or other animal-based products versus 34% of baby boomers.
The transition towards more plant-based claims is underway
How to position plant-based products remains a challenge. While vegetarian and vegan claims are the most popular in the packaged food industry as per Euromonitor’s Product Claims and Positioning research, plant-based as a claim lags behind in all regions. This is interesting as the term “plant-based” can be perceived as a more inclusive and appealing term. It aligns with the societal discourse of following lifestyles that reduce animal-based products but do not necessarily eliminate them completely from the diet.
Moving forward, claims more aligned with flexitarian lifestyles, like plant-based, are expected to flourish and the US is leading that trend, mainly in the meat substitutes category.
A more plant-based future in the food industry
The plant-based food space has a bright future ahead. Now the question is, what are the next categories to succeed in the space? It is expected that a wide range of manufactures and ingredient companies will further focus on smaller categories besides plant-based milk and meat substitutes. Vegan cheese, fish and seafood substitutes will be enhanced, given the recent launches in the space from big food players, such as Fromageries Bel’s vegan cheese spread and Nestlé’s vegan tuna.
Other potential areas include vegan confectionery and baked goods (cakes and pastries). Given the low availability of vegan options in these categories, it is expected that more manufacturers will jump into these spaces in the coming years. The geographic scope will be crucial to succeed, while Finland and Spain show the largest penetration of vegan chocolate confectionery, France leads in vegan cakes.
The plant-based trend has revolutionised the future of the packaged food industry and it should be front and centre in business strategies moving forward.
To learn more, download the free white paper: Going Plant-Based: The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Food