The global vegan meat market will reach $31.4 billion by 2026. In homes around the world, families are switching from traditional products to plant-based alternatives that are better for the environment. This shift in consumer demand is causing a shift in the food industry supply chain and how major organisations are operating. In this blog, we’ll look at the impact of vegan food and what it means for the future.
A Vegan Revolution?
The speed at which consumers embrace veganism and plant-based products has left some within the food industry predicting a food revolution.
In recent years, there’s been a growing awareness among consumers when it comes to all things green. Information about climate change, food standards, and animal welfare are more readily available than ever before, thanks to social media. This wealth of information is turning more and more people away from traditional products as they look for less damaging alternatives to the planet.
Plant-based diets aren’t the niche choice they used to be. Changes in consumer tastes, particularly among influential millennials, are shifting demand away from products that were so key to supply chains.
A recent report shows that 25% of US millennials now consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. In the UK, an Ipso Mori poll showed that 540,000 British people classified themselves as vegan.
These numbers are only heading in one direction, and it’s up to producers, manufacturers and distributors to adapt so they can meet the change in demand.
In addition to typical things like seeds, vegetables, fruit and grains, we also see demand rise for different types of plant-based food products such as dairy alternatives and meat substitutes. Most of these products are derived and processed with plant-based ingredients such as soy. This is driving overall growth in the food market and adding value to chains that had previously been overlooked.
How Big Brands Are Getting Involved
The plant-based food category is rising at a rapid rate. It’s a trend that’s finding encouragement from both governments and large food brands.
First, organisations like the United Nations see great potential in vegan food when it comes to solving some of the biggest issues facing the planet. With an estimated two billion extra mouths to feed by 2050, it’s important to look at alternative methods of food production that are sustainable.
It’s not just global organisations seeing the positive impact that vegan food can have. Major brands like McDonald’s, Unilever and Burger King have all experienced great success when experimenting with vegan food.
Diversifying products in this way has a serious ripple effect on the entire industry. Take McDonald’s, for example. The fast-food giant has been exploring pea-based protein burgers in some markets. The ‘McPlant’ has been specially developed for the typical McDonald’s consumer and is a flexible meat-substitute item that will stop vegans from heading elsewhere for a quick bite to eat.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realise the impact of a corporation as big as McDonald’s getting involved in the plant-based side of the food industry. If brands of the scale of McDonald’s are taking the leap, then smaller enterprises will soon follow suit. The sooner these businesses make changes, the sooner they’ll be ready to meet demand.
The Impact on the Food Industry
Some early adopters saw the potential of plant-based foods before everyone else and took steps to switch focus. Even some of the most prominent entrepreneurs want to make sure they’re part of the new trend. Both Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have invested in plant-based food businesses.
These influential entrepreneurs and businesses are drawing attention to plant-based foods. This will mean the industry as a whole needs to adapt and evolve in order to meet the change in demand.
As more people switch to a vegan diet, we could see a shift to a more circular economy; one that maximizes the use of plants and improves the performance of food industry businesses by using all parts of the plants that are grown, instead of focusing on certain parts and feeding what’s left to animals.
Grains and unused parts of plants once destined to be animal feed can now go into the supply chain to meet this new demand, which is good for farmers producing such crops.
On the other hand, cattle farmers will be facing a different kind of challenge in the form of new plant-based competitors. It’s up to them to decide whether to diversify their offerings to meet growing demand or continue to provide the same products they always have done. This is a decision all parts of the supply chain will need to make in the coming months and years.
Farmers worldwide will need to increase their production by dedicating more land to growing crops or, more realistically, by enhancing productivity on their existing land. Farmers will need to grow more in the same space. They can do this by adopting new methods and technology that will increase overall output.
To combat shifting demand and thrive in a world of rapidly changing buying habits, farmers around the world are incorporating new technologies into their processes. Agritech opens us all kinds of possibilities for farmers, allowing them to work efficiently and effectively.
Agritech is the use of technology in agriculture to increase efficiency, grow more and boost profits. Although it refers to any technology or software used to make farming easier for producers, it also covers things that will improve the food supply chain. It’s a fairly new concept that could transform how commodities like food are produced, manufactured and distributed.
Robots and sensors are just some of the tools they can utilise to maximise their yield. Producers that are already growing the ingredients needed for vegan substitutes might soon find they’re in high demand.
By modernising their farming practices, they can be prepared for the growing number of manufacturers who are interested in the crops they grow.
Why the Agricultural Sector Needs to Modernise
If you’re interested in the issues currently facing the agricultural industry and how cutting-edge technology is being used to solve these challenges, make sure to view our free resources. They’re packed with insights, useful information and a look at what the future of the food industry holds.