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Plant-based trend continues to sprout

A big thanks to the Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit accelerating the transition of the global food system to alternative proteins, for their help with this week’s edition of What’s NEXT Weekly.

Plant-based seems to be on the rise (and maybe that’s an understatement). After all, the Impossible Whopper now comprises 10% of all Whopper sales. But this rise of plant-based doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone paying close attention to consumer sentiment. We know that people are attracted to plant-based for health reasons, but environmental and animal welfare concerns aren’t far behind. And as is the case for most foods, the primary motivator for purchasing a given plant-based product is taste. Will the addition of new, innovative products continue to advance the flavor profiles of plant-based foods to better suit consumer desires?

Primary motivators for plant-based purchasing decisions

Values are aligned with more and more opportunities to eat more delicious plant-based meats, milks and cheeses. Just two years ago, a NEXT survey showed an impressive 62% of millennials and 47% of Gen X’ers said they’d pay more for products produced using environmentally responsible practices. An even higher percentage – 67% of millennials and 63% of Gen X’ers – said they were concerned about livestock treatment. Those numbers are likely higher now as more people are making all manner of buying decisions in line with their values.

But will we see this surge continue? GFI and NEXT partnered to take a look at how plant-based exhibitors at Expo West 2019 compared to those that will be at Expo West 2020 next week. This could be a strong indicator of what’s coming down the pike at retail in the years to come.

  • The number of exhibitors with plant-based products that displace animal-based meat, egg and dairy products grew by 14% from 2019 to 2020, to more than 225 exhibitors this year.
  • The number of plant-based meat exhibitors grew 24% to 50+ exhibitors at Expo West 2020.
  • Plant-based dairy is another area with more exhibitors than ever, 120+ exhibitors in 2020, representing a growth rate of more than 13% compared to 2019.
  • Plant-based snacks have shown significant growth, with 60+ exhibitors this year, up 15% from 2019.

As these stats clearly show, you’re likely to see a lot more plant-based options both on the trade show floor next week and on-shelf at retail. If you’re going to Expo West, here’s a guide from our friends at GFI, including:

  • A preview of plant-based education sessions
  • Plant-based exhibitor profiles, organized by product categories and booth location
  • Key insights on the state of the plant-based industry

Curious what’s happening in retail?*

  • SPINS retail data (released July 16, 2019) shows that grocery sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 31% in the past two years, reaching $4.5 billion.
  • The plant-based milk category is worth $1.86 billion. The growth of plant-based milk – now purchased by 37% of households – has laid the groundwork for growth in other plant-based dairy categories.
  • Dollar sales of plant-based meat grew 37% over the past two years to reach more than $800 million.

*Source: SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (proprietary), SPINSscan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), 104 weeks ending 4/21/2019, courtesy of Good Food Institute.

Eager to uncover even more plant-based brands at Expo West? Order your copy of the NEXT Trend Guidebook to locate brands by trend, organized by booth number with corresponding categories.

Plus, don’t miss the NEXT team live in action at the show, during the following sessions:

  • Plants Elevated: The Future of Plant-Based Innovation Wednesday, March 4th, 1:30-3pm, Marriott, Orange County Ballroom 3
  • Supplement Champions: Stewarding a Sustainable & Transparent Industry Wednesday, March 4th, 4-5:30pm, Marriott, Orange County Ballroom 3
  • Purpose: Making Sustainable Living Commonplace for Today’s Wellness Consumer Thursday, March 5th, 1:30-3:30pm, Marriott, Marquis Ballroom Northwest
  • Trends Exploration: How to Identify the NEXT Big Thing in Natural Thursday, March 5th, 2-3pm, Marriott, Marquis Ballroom Central
  • Ancient Remedies for the Modern World: What’s Missing in the Modern American Diet? Friday, March 6th, 1-2:30pm, Marriott, Marquis Ballroom Northeast