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Plant Based Revolution: Unlock the Potential of Vegan Food

Consumer Goods and Retail | Jun, 2023

The shifting consumer eating habits, driven by the enhanced awareness towards environment, climate change, animal welfare activism, and holistic approach towards diets has led to the rise of veganism around the world. Currently, 1.1% of the global population, approx. 88 million people are vegans, and the number is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. In Veganuary 2023, over 700,000 people from 228 countries and territories officially signed up globally while 400 US businesses participated in the event, breaking all previous records. From celebrities to athletes and big tech companies are supporting the movement to eat more plant-based foods. Vegan diets have been around for a very long time around the world, despite occasionally being seen as a privileged Western movement. Countries such as India, China, Japan, Greece, Jamaica, and Israel have a large vegan population due to ingrained cultural traditions and religious beliefs. With now more and more people opting for a vegan lifestyle, food manufacturers are capitalizing on the growing opportunity and providing more vegan products on our supermarket shelves.

Plant-based Foods Take Market by Storm

When health and well-being started becoming priorities, consumers started reassessing what they eat and their impact on the environment. This was the year when everyone learned about plant-based, and new goods started to arrive on the market, including pizza, lattes, dirty burgers, and bakeries and pastries. In 2021, the sales of plant-based foods grew faster than the overall food sales, according to a study conducted by the Good Food Institute. Now consumers can find plant-based alternatives, everything from vegan meat to vegan milk and cheese through mainstream grocery stores. Already plant-based and dairy alternatives account for 8% of the global “protein foods” market.

Vegans are no longer settling for substandard meals of french fries and side salads. Many vegan food outlets such as PLNT Burger, Hart House, Vegan vs Fries, Loving Hut, Flower Burger, Veganburg, Blaze Pizza, HipCityVeg, etc. have been emerging, providing more food choices for vegans. Besides, popular fast-food chains and restaurants are rolling out enticing vegan meals in their options to meet the evolving demands of consumers. For instance, two of the biggest fast-food restaurants in the U.S., Chick-fil-A and Mickey Ds are hopping on the plant-based bandwagon, offering dishes that resemble chicken but are made without chicken. Burger King started selling its plant-based burger, Impossible Whopper in 2019 while its competitor McDonald’s debuted its McPlant burger—developed with Beyond Meat—in the United Kingdom in 2021. Even KFC, widely renowned for their chicken offerings started selling Beyond Meat nuggets in 2022.

According to a survey conducted by Food Labs, restaurants that have added vegan food options have witnessed 13% increase in customer traffic and availability of options has led to a 300% increase in vegan food orders. Aramark, a major foodservice provider in United States has adopted a vegan culinary training programme to assist cooks in mastering plant-based cookery. Aramark is in charge of the food supplied in schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, and other locations. The action fits with the company's goal of providing more vegan foods that are heart healthy.

As more cafes and restaurants build their business models to not only accommodate vegan customers but also to deliver delectable vegan food items, vegan burgers, pizzas, and coffee are gaining more popularity than ever. The availability of meat and dairy substitutes has made it simpler for restaurants to serve a variety of vegan cuisines. Restaurants are not only serving vegan dishes, but they are also advocating for a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. Through vegan cuisine options, restaurants are investing in providing customers with an environmentally responsible experience.

According to TechSci Research report on “Vegan Chocolate Market – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast, 2018-2028F Segmented By Type (Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and White Chocolate), By Category (Boxed, Bars, Countlines, and Others (Pouches & Bags, etc.)), By Distribution Channel (Supermarkets/Hypermarkets, Convenience Stores, Specialty Stores, Online, Departmental Stores and Non-Retail) By Region, Competition”, the vegan chocolate market is projected to grow at a significant rate. The growth can be attributed to the rising health awareness among consumers regarding the benefits of consuming plant-based foods and rising cases of food-related allergies.

Rise of Vegan Food Startups

The days of vegetarians and vegans having few food options are long gone, thanks to a plethora of new vegan cuisine entrepreneurs. Growing consumer demand for vegan food products has dramatically increased investor interest in the sector. Globally, there are currently 640 vegan food companies. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, two California-based companies that produce fake meat, helped make vegan burgers popular and paved the way for related developments like vegan seafood.