Plant-based alternatives are taking the global food and beverage industry by storm

Several years ago, plant-based products in retail stores had very little shelf space and dedicated ‘meat-free’ options on the menus of restaurants were mostly unheard of. Now, we are seeing the greatest number of food and beverage businesses expanding their products to include meat and dairy substitutes. The Good Food Institute reported that the US plant-based alternatives market has significantly expanded from $3.9 billion to $5 billion in the past 2 years, with UBS projecting that the industry will be worth $85 billion globally in 2030, indicating that plant-based foods are a booming industry.

Traditional food and beverage companies are facing unprecedented levels of competition and disruption from plant-based alternatives in the market. The dairy industry is gradually losing its market share to dairy alternatives such as almond, oat and soy milk. The Good Food Institute report indicates that of all US households, 41.3% purchase plant-based milk. In 2018 the Dairy Farmers of America reported a drop of $1.1 billion in sales from $14.7 billion in 2017 to $13.6 billion in 2018.

The disruption in the food and beverage market is largely driven by consumers becoming more knowledgeable on the impact of their food consumption on animals, the environment and on their own health. This is a result of increasing media coverage on the benefits of plant-based options, further improvements in meat substitutes and greater accessibility.

Established food and beverage companies are realising the potential of high returns from the plant-based industry. To maintain their market shares they are being forced to alter their business models by investing and seeking to acquire start-up plant-based companies and expand into the plant-based industry themselves. Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor, introduced meat substitutes into their products in 2019 such as meatless chicken nuggets. Nestle is another company which has expanded into plant-based alternatives by introducing a veggie burger and purchasing plant-based food producer Sweet Earth in 2017.

KFC, a major fast food chain, has also taken the leap in adopting a more sustainable approach for producing their chicken products by partnering with 3D Bioprinting Solutions to produce lab-grown chicken nuggets. They are the first of their kind, produced using chicken cells and plant material, and are expected to be released by the end of 2020.

The Israeli food tech industry is becoming increasingly competitive in the plant-based food market with start-up companies innovating sustainable, healthy products. Remilk, aims to produce milk through microbes which can then be formulated into real dairy products such as cheese, something that other plant-based dairy products struggle to make. Another company is Planterra with products based mainly on protein isolate extracted from chickpea. other good examples are Redefine meat ,SavorEat, Innovopro and others.

There is no doubt that plant-based products will only become increasingly popular, and the future of the plant-based industry will involve a greater need in transparency on how products are produced as more consumers look to buy clean, sustainable products.