Hi there, fellow nerds! Having a good Monday? ☕ If not, here’s hoping this week’s news roundup brings you a little sunshine. 🌞 I’m narrowing the focus to one of the biggest challenges facing today’s plant-based food innovators: price.
When I talk with people working in this space, three key areas tend to come up: taste, nutrition and price. Plant-based alternatives have come a long way in the taste 🤤 department, but price can still be an issue, especially in emerging markets.
Let’s take a look at what’s behind the disparity — and what can be done to level the playing field. 🥅
Meat Industry Says, “Ouch” as Market Share Shifts Toward Alternatives
A July report from CB Insights showed the global meat market could hit $2.7 trillion 💰 (yes, trillion) by 2060. That may sound like a big “ouch“ for plant-based food, but “shifting consumer behavior” and problems with COVID-19 outbreaks in factories and processing plants have the potential to slash meat sales by as much as $20 billion this year.
The pandemic isn’t the only thing driving behavioral change. Factors like environmental 🌏 impact, population growth, the obesity epidemic and an overall interest in improving personal health are also increasing demand for plant-based products. From March 7 to May 9 this year, demand for vegan meat alone shot up 264%, while oat milk enjoyed a surge in popularity to the tune of a 347% year-over-year increase just in the first week of March.
As the plant-based sector 🌱 continues to turn out more alternatives that appeal to omnivores and vegans like, there’s a good chance the market could see an accelerated shift away from meat consumption in the coming years.
More People Are Ditching Meat, But Preferences Remain Skewed
And speaking of omnivores, a recent survey put out by ingredients firm Griffith Foods revealed a bunch more people are incorporating alternative proteins into their diets was suspected.
Griffith surveyed about 4,000 people in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands — and found there’s an appreciable market for people who qualify as “meat reducers.” 🍖 These consumers aren’t ready to go full-on plant-based but are looking to swap out some meat for alternatives. 🥗
Problem being, meat reducers aren’t keen on labels. Seeing the words “plant-based“ or “vegan” on packaging is likely to turn them off. This may explain why a survey 📊 published in August showed that, among 1,800 U.S. consumers who participated in a “choice experiment,” 72% chose farm-raised beef over plant-based and cell-based options.
So, what do these flexitarian foodies want? Bold flavors, 😋 familiar food names and “inspiring“ cuisine that draws from international traditions.
Fixing the Plant-Based Pricing “Problem” Could Transform the Industry
If you’ve had shelf price sticker shock over the cost of alt protein, you’re not alone. In the U.S., plant-based meats can cost around three to four times more than their animal-based counterparts. 💵
This might not necessarily be a problem if more people were ready to make a shift completely away from animal foods, but consumers in the meat reducer category are looking to replace animal proteins in meals 🍲 they already enjoy, not overhaul their entire diets. To cater to the “transition food” crowd, plant-based meats are going to have to match or undercut the shelf price of meat.
Or are they? Sure, plant-based brands could scale up the production—and many are—but educating 👨🏻🏫 consumers about the true cost of meat consumption may provide a better, or at least complementary, approach.
When you factor in the environmental toll of factory farming, the high cost of chronic disease associated with excessive meat intake, government subsidies and the decades of time the meat industry has had to reduce costs at every juncture, it’s clear that the true price of meat has been obscured. It remains to be seen whether providing insight into all that goes on “behind the scenes” of low meat prices would be enough to convince consumers that plant meats are worth the (apparently) higher cost.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading. 📖 Anything I missed that you want me to cover next time? Let me know. 👇🏻👇🏻