Plant Based Proteins Could Claim Up to 1/3 of The Protein Market by 2054

Key Points:

  • 32% of US consumers are considered “flexitarians” and plant-based companies have been increasingly targeting their marketing efforts towards this segment.
  • Plant-based meat alternatives such as burgers comprise 44% of the plant-based category in foodservice
  • 42% of total 2018 Beyond Meat sales came from restaurant and foodservice channels.
  • Beyond Meat’s climb from a $1.4 billion pre-IPO valuation to $5.2 billion 3-weeks later has not only caught the attention of investors, but also big businesses eager to take a piece out of the plant-based protein market.
  • Plant-based versions of chicken, pork, seafood, egg, and dairy are expected to become top trends in foodservice over the next few years

The market for plant-based proteins could claim up to a third of the protein market by 2054, according to a 2015 report by Lux Research.

More recently, we’ve seen record-setting growth in the plant-based protein market as more flexitarians moderate their meat intake.

2018 U.S. consumer studies indicate that approximately 32% of US consumers are considered “flexitarians” and one-third of U.S. consumers are very or extremely likely to purchase plant-based meat; of which, the vast majority (84%) still consume animal-based meats at least once per day.

The increasing adoption of plant-based products by flexitarians and heavy meat eaters has been one of the primary driving factors in increased demand. For example, Beyond Meat estimates that 93% of Beyond Burger consumers also consume animal-based products.

As a result, plant-based companies have been increasingly targeting their marketing toward this segment and since many consumers first encounter new trends at restaurants; the foodservice market is an important target for plant-based food producers, both for incumbents and new entrants in the plant-based food space.

Since news of the Beyond Meat IPO broke, new partnerships between companies producing plant-based foods and foodservice chains are being announced weekly; typically centered around these three players:

Beyond Meat

 

Has well-established partnerships with BurgerFi, Bareburger, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, TGI Fridays, A&W Canada and more; accounting for more than 12,000 restaurants and food service outlets.

Beyond Meat also has a strong presence at leading food retailers, including Albertsons, Kroger, Wegmans, and Whole Foods Market and recently announced that they will be in more than 3,000 Canadian grocery stores nationwide by the end of this month, including Sobeys, IGA, Loblaws, Longos, Metro and more.

 

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Impossible Foods Inc

 

Which is currently selling The Impossible Burger at more than 7,000 establishments across the country — from high-end restaurants to college cafeterias — as well as White Castle, Umami Burger, Wahlburgers, Fatburger, Qdoba, and Red Robin and at Disney theme parks.

Burger King recently announced that they will be rolling out the Impossible Whopper to its nearly 7,300 locations nationwide by the end of 2019; after which point, The Impossible Burger will be available at more than 14,000 locations by year-end.

Lightlife Foods

 

Recently announced that the Lightlife® Burger will be available at Kelseys restaurants across Canada. In addition, the Lightlife® Burger will also be launching in over 3,400 retail stores across Canada throughout May, including Metro, Loblaws, Sobeys, Longo’s and Federated Coop.

 

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This is only the beginning; more fast food and restaurant chains — big and small — will add high-quality plant-based alternatives to their menus. Burger King was the most recent chain to go all-in on a plant-based menu item last month, and I’m betting that other chains like McDonalds, Dunkin’, Chick-fil-A and Tim Hortons will do the same sooner rather than later.

The recent success of the Beyond Meat IPO, up 257% on Friday vs. IPO price of $25, further supports this claim that eating habits are changing.

And its climb from a $1.4 billion pre-IPO valuation to $5.2 billion 3-weeks later has not only caught the attention of investors, but also big businesses eager to take a piece out of the plant-based protein market, either through acquisition or the development of its own plant-based brand.

Nestle, Unilever and President’s Choice and meat giants such as Tyson and Maple Leaf Foods have already entered into the space or, in the case of Tyson, are actively investing in development with plans to launch their plant-based products later this year. Even cereal giant Kellogg’s recently added a vegan cereal made with vegetables to its range.

It’s important to remember that we have only scratched the surface. There is still a significant opportunity to increase variety and draw in customers with other plant-based foods.

Plant-based meat alternatives such as burgers comprise 44% of the plant-based category in foodservice, leaving room for plant-based versions of chicken, pork, seafood, egg, and dairy to become top trends over the next few years.

That’s not all, there is also considerable opportunity for plant-based companies to pursue distribution in other foodservice channels — for example, grade schools, universities, and hospital cafeterias.

The business opportunity for companies producing plant-based foods and the foodservice industry as a whole is significant, and all signs point to a market that is large enough to accommodate a significant number of players.

The question is; who will come out on top?

Andrew Ourique
rene@plantbasedtoronto.com

Hi! I'm a Business Writer here at Plant Based Toronto with 10+ years of experience in risk management, workforce efficiencies, and capital budgeting. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter