Consumers who are trying to eat healthy are likely to reduce meat intake in line with the local dietary guidelines. Meanwhile, climate concern is underrated as a global force for change. In 2019, 60% of global consumers surveyed either agree or strongly agree with the statement “I worry about climate change”.
This still has to further mature into personal action and choice, but there is a case for cost-effective climate-smart solutions in food. Adding to the momentum, food trends that reach a certain level of popularity are usually boosted by social adoption. For example, a child asking for more plant-based food at home will likely affect the consumption of that entire family. We have seen how both organic and gluten-free benefit from it once the trend is mainstream enough. After that stage, we will even start seeing consumers choosing plant-based out of fear of looking out of place or unethical.
Change requires effort though and in a four-year period, meat is set to grow faster than meat substitutes (including tofu) in all of the largest meat markets of the world – China, Brazil, USA, India, in that order. The main weakness for substitutes products is high price and that both hinders its mainstream application and makes it vulnerable to economic turbulence. In Argentina for example, processed meat and meat substitutes were among the first non-necessities that consumers cut from their food budget as real wages declined. Fresh meat is seen as more of a staple and a necessary protein source that cannot be excluded.
Investors see big money in converting a part of the meat and dairy consumption in Europe and North America with something new. Substitutes are set to gain investors‘ interest from the fact that, unlike meat or milk, the products can be patented. Tasty manufacturing also requires a great deal of know-how, which serves as a barrier to entry for new potential competitors. Plant-based nutrition has this good fundamental for growth and potential to find a strong place in the global market during a ten year period.