In our previous post we introduced the concept of sustainability demand. Let’s use our Sustainability Demand framework to explain the explosion of the plant-based category.
The exponential rise of plant-based foods category in the UK such as Meat Free 18.3% growth1, and Dairy Alternatives + average of 20% YOY2 is an example of sustainability demand. This increase in consumption is not driven by a sudden surge in vegans (although this number has increased by around half a million people in the UK in the past year3) … but by a collision of factors that contribute to demand.
Firstly, there is a sustainability issue to be addressed, in this case a material impact on the environment – the production of meat (besides the ethics of animal welfare) has a huge impact on deforestation, climate change and biodiversity (to name a few). In other words, meat production has a material impact.
Then there’s the market landscape – where many issues are intertwined. Let’s look at this through the different lenses.
Investors are interested from an environmental and innovation perspective – reducing environmental impacts such as greenhouse gases and investing in emerging technologies such as cellular agriculture.
Consumers are interested in stories about meat production, health, and are excited about the novelty of meat-free choice they are being presented with. The positive sentiment towards this space is increasing, the volume of conversations is increasing, and the trends are set to continue.
In culture veganism is the new hipster. By choosing vegan products, you’re wearing a badge of honour, a badge that says “I care”, “I’m a thinker”, “I’m experimental”. Choosing vegan is cool or sick (depending on your generation). Influencers such as Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus are advocates for meat-free living, and when the likes of Bill Gates and Leonardo Di Caprio back businesses like ‘Beyond Meat’, you’re probably onto a winner. When Deliveroo starts delivering from vegan restaurants, Vegan Butchers become part of our taxonomy and businesses like The Fauxmagerie take off, then you definitely are.
In business agendas, corporates have set targets to reduce material impacts through innovation, leading to technological advances in lab-grown meat, alternative protein sources and cellular agriculture.
When this all comes together in products that genuinely taste good, do good, and are financially lucrative, then we have created the right kind of momentum for people, planet and purpose-led brands.
1 Source The Grocer ‘Focus on Plant Based’ and Kantar WorldPanel 52 w/e 6 Sept 2020
2 Source The Grocer ‘Focus on Plant Based’ and Kantar WorldPanel 52 w/e 6 Sept 2020 – average growth excluding BSM
3 Source Finder UK Diet Trends 2021