No longer relegated to the fringes of society where for so long it was mocked for being ‘weird’ or ‘extreme’, veganism is going mainstream. Finally recognized for its positive impact on sustainability and animal welfare without the need to sacrifice taste or style, vegan living is starting to become the norm.
The continued proliferation of vegan and plant-based business stories and developments that have occurred during the past year demonstrate that this movement is just getting started in making its mark – and entrepreneurs are leading the way.
Here are some of the key reasons you should consider veganizing your business in 2018:
The numbers speak for themselves
Sales of plant-based food went up by 8.1% during the past year, topping $3.1 billion, according to research carried out by Nielsen for the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute.
Plant-based dairy alternatives are expected to represent 40% of the combined total of dairy and dairy alternative beverages within three years, up from just 25% in 2016, according to research firm Packaged Facts. The company predicts new types of dairy-free milks to find wider audiences in 2018, including barley, hemp, pea, flax and quinoa. This is backed up by data released by the PBFA via SPINS, a retail sales data company for the natural and specialty products industry, which showed plant-based milk sales topped $4.2 billion over the past year.
Vegan cheese has taken off in a big way, with the global market estimated to be worth just under $4 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% from 2016 to 2024, according to a report by research firm Bharat Book.
The humble pea is revolutionizing the plant-based sector as global revenues of pea protein are estimated to be worth $104 million by 2026, according to Future Market Insights.
While plant-based milk sales grew 3.1%, cow’s milk sales declined 5% and are projected to drop another 11% through 2020, according to Mintel. Market Watch reports that Dean Foods, the largest supplier of dairy milk in the US, recently posted a third-quarter net income of just $1.4 million, down from $14.5 million in the same period a year ago. This downward trend is not confined only to the US: Australia’s largest supplier of dairy products, Murray Goulburn, announced a 22% drop in milk sales in the past financial year. Meanwhile Elmhurst, one of the longest-running dairies on the US east coast, decided in 2017, after 92 years, to cut its losses and switch to producing solely plant-based milks.
The egg industry is starting to feel the pinch too. Shares in Cal-Maine Foods, an egg producer since 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi in the US, saw its shares drop 7% in July this year, after the company reported its first annual loss in more than 10 years. CEO Adolphus Baker blamed the growth in popularity of egg alternatives.
Finally, the global meat substitutes market is expected to garner a revenue of $5.2 billion by 2020, registering a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% during the forecast period 2015-2020, according to Allied Market Research.
These key developments and players are signs that this market will continue to grow
Competition is heating up in the race to produce plant-based burgers that look, feel and taste like their animal-based counterparts, even to the point of ‘bleeding’ red juice. American startups Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat continue to lead the way. The Impossible Burger is currently served at more than 150 eateries in the US, while the Beyond Burger, whose investors include Bill Gates, Leonardo DeCaprio, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and meat company Tyson Foods, is available in more than 5,000 grocery stores across the US as well as on menus at selected restaurants such as the Veggie Grill Chain. In December 2017, Beyond Meat released its Beyond Sausage which it claims mimics the taste and texture of pork, but with less fat and sodium and higher protein than traditional sausages. On the other side of the pond, three companies in the UK, two of which are backed by Gates, are working on bringing their vegan burgers to market. British startup Moving Mountains claims it will be the first to get its B12 Burger into stores there.