Substitutes for animal protein are firmly set in most consumers’ everyday lives, and although vegan or vegetarian do not represent recent eating habits, they do seem to be adopted by more and more people around the world, as shown in the Autumn edition of the Frozen Food Dossier, available here. Plant-based meat or meat substitutes are already widely present in retail and even foodservice, with experts believing that there is still a lot more room to grow for such products.
According to the Good Food Institute (GFI), 2019 was a record-breaking year for plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies in the US, who received more than USD747m in investments. Global cultivated meat companies raised more than USD77m in capital in 2019, for a total of USD824m in alternative proteins. However, investment in the US plant-based meat, egg, and dairy companies in just the first quarter of 2020 was a staggering USD741m, almost as much as for the entirety of 2019.
Dollar sales of plant-based meat grew 18% in the past year and 38% over the past two years, according to the Good Food Institute. All in all, over 208 million units of plant-based meat were sold in the past year. Plant-based meat accounts for 2% of all dollar sales for retail packaged meat and approximately 1% of all dollar sales for total retail meat (including random-weight meat). And that shows that the plant-based meat category today is reminiscent of the plant-based milk category when it was in its early stages of rapid growth. To be more precise, plant-based milk now accounts for 14% of all dollar sales for retail milk. The plant-based meat category has the potential to reach market share parity with plant-based milk at a 13-point gain of the market share of total retail meat, which is an opportunity worth USD12bn, Good Food Institute experts say.
Frozen plant-based meat accounts for 66% of all plant-based meat dollar sales, while refrigerated plant-based meat accounts for 33%, and shelf-stable plant-based meat accounts for just 1%. “I think it’s a very interesting category, we’re beginning to see very well-defined ranges in supermarkets, more and more supermarkets are moving away from having meat-free scattered within the cabinets and are having a dedicated area,” Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) said. “Again, I think the advantages of frozen meat-free is that the product has a relatively long life.” The plant-based trend is moving into all the different areas, including frozen pizza, according to Harrow. “Chicago Town, which is owned by Dr. Oetker, has a vegan crust, barbecues, and jackfruit pizza. Aldi had two meat-free pizzas as well,” he points out. “You’re seeing people moving more and more to meat-free.” Refrigerated plant-based burgers grew 123% over the past year and a massive 555% over the past two years, while frozen plant-based burger growth declined by 4% over the past year and grew at only 1% over the past 2 years.
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