Plant-based goes mainstream
Size of prize
Foodservice operators are well advised to differentiate their offering to capture the expanding slice of consumers, who, for health and//or ethical reasons, are drawn to premium plant-based meat alternatives.
Data shows per capita meat consumption is declining, particularly when it comes to beef and pork. Conversely, a Dalhousie University study recently reported that vegetarians and vegans now account for nearly 10% of Canada’s population; that’s more than 2.3 million vegetarians and 850,000 vegans. People under the age of 35 are driving this trend and they are willing to spend more for food that satisfies their tastes.
According to the Ipsos Canada, strict vegan/vegetarians spent close to $500M at foodservice in 2018, with an average eater cheque of $11.01 versus the industry average of $8.75. Flexitarians (those who have a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat or fish) though harder to quantify, could account for at least another $5B annual foodservice sales.
According to the Ipsos FIVE & Foodservice Monitor:
- Alternative proteins are growing at a faster pace at foodservice than meat proteins
- Vegan burgers are the fastest growing burger type in foodservice (up 15%)
- Protein inclusion at lunch on the rise, with alternative proteins now on par with meat proteins.
What’s behind this consumer behaviour? Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Centre of the Plate Consumer Trend Report details that consumer satisfaction with meat-alternatives is growing and objections are fading (Exhibit 1). In other words, companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are raising the bar with great-tasting beef and pork alternatives.
The outlook for chicken and seafood
Next up for disruption? Chicken and seafood.
Sunfed Chicken-Free-Chicken, a New Zealand start-up food manufacturer, claims to have developed a product with the taste and feel of poultry, as well as double the protein of chicken and triple the iron of beef. It is free of gluten, soy, cholesterol, trans fats, preservatives, diary, GMO, palm oils, antibiotics and hormones. It also features a relatively clean label—water, pea protein, rice bran oil, pea fibre, pumpkin, natural yeast extract and maize starch. Sunfed’s products are currently available through two large chain supermarkets, but a broader distribution is only a matter of time.