Plant-based innovation: Who’s next?

Plant-based food
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As the plant-based lifestyle is on the rise, animal farmers are feeling the pinch. Which businesses are making the move to a ‘cruelty free’ method of producing food?

The plant-based food market is growing exponentially and completely disrupting the global meat and dairy sector, causing major meat producers Maple Leaf Foods, Tyson Foods and ConAgra Brands to shift their focus and create plant-based meat alternatives to satisfy consumer needs.

Even fast-food giant McDonald’s has changed gears after seeing an 80% increase in vegetarian orders over the last year. Meanwhile, the global plant-based milk market is worth an estimated $14bn (~€12.5bn) and growing at a CAGR of 8%, offering 100% plant-based companies a lucrative opportunity.

While other companies focus on infiltrating the saturated alt-meat market, Else Nutrition is looking to disrupt the $90bn global infant formula market by 2025 with its 100% plant-based non-dairy non-soy products for babies and children.

Plant-based products, which were previously reserved for the niche consumer and warranted limited shelf space, have now gone mainstream. In fact, 80% of Americans plan to replace at least some meat for plant-based alternatives.

Naturally, food companies are moving quickly to gain a piece of the global plant-based food and beverage alternatives market, which is on track to hit $80bn by 2024 due to an uptick in health-conscious consumers, rising concerns for animal welfare and increasing demand for food safety.

Plant-base milk still holds 1st place

Despite the endless media attention surrounding the alt-meat market, the plant-based milk sector takes the vegan cake in terms of sales revenue. Last year, plant-based milk sales grew by 9% from the previous year, netting $1.8bn in sales.

According to experts, consumers are making the switch to plant-based milk for health reasons, intolerance to dairy, ethical concerns about animal abuse in dairy farming, or for simply wanting another alternative to dairy.

At the same time, parents are shying away from dairy products for their babies because of the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticide traces found in cow’s milk, as well as the impact the dairy industry has on the environment and animal welfare.

According to a 2018 study, 50% of food allergic babies under the age of one are allergic to cow’s milk and a further 40% of those babies are also allergic to soy.

The company’s proprietary formulation has been granted composition patents in 19 countries including the US, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Israel, Eurasia, and New Zealand and has an additional 47 patents pending.

Else Nutrition just received a favourable regulatory assessment of its toddler formula ingredients from EAS Consulting Group, which conducted a preliminary review of the Else formula in view of US Food and Drug Administration requirements.

Food giants are taking note of the plant-based movement

Food giants like Maple Leaf Foods and Tyson Foods are moving into new territory in a bid to launch plant-based products to the ever-growing alt-meat market. Strategic investments and M&A activity have pushed the movement further, with $17bn being invested in US plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies since 2009, including $13bn in 2017 and 2018 alone and major corporations like ConAgra Brands, are acquiring plant-based companies to round out their alt-meat product selection.

Canadian consumer packaged meats company Maple Leaf Foods entered the plant-based market race in 2017 after acquiring Lightlife Foods Holding and Field Roast Grain Meat Company to serve as a foundation for its meatless protein business.

Since being acquired by Maple Leaf, Lightlife has injected some life into its product portfolio and is now available in over 12,000 retailers across the US, as well as in restaurants like Dave & Busters.

Meanwhile, Field Roast Grain Meat partnered with Pizza Pizza to launch the chain’s first-ever plant-based pizza. Then in April, Maple Leaf announced its plan to build a $310m plant-based food processing facility in Indiana to double its current production capacity.

Major US meat producer Tyson Foods, which was an early investor in Beyond Meat, homed in on the plant-based market with the launch of its Raised & Rooted brand in June, offering plant-based nuggets and a blended burger in over 7,000 stores. Then in September, Tyson Foods invested in New Wave Foods to produce plant-based shellfish for food service operators in early 2020.

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