Plant-based Food: The future is sprouting! Rise in demand for plant-based food in F&B sector

Rise in demand for plant-based food

The F&B sector is witnessing a significant surge in demand for plant-based products. This trend is driven by a number of factors forcing the traditional food companies to take this trend seriously.

Why the Rise?

  • Health-Conscious Consumers: People are increasingly opting for healthier options, with plant-based foods often perceived as lower in fat and cholesterol.
  • Environmental Concerns: Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of animal agriculture, leading them to seek plant-based alternatives with a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Dietary Preferences: The rise of vegetarianism, veganism, and flexitarianism (partially plant-based diets) is creating a larger market for plant-based offerings.
  • Improved Taste and Texture: Food science advancements are leading to more realistic and delicious plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and other animal products. This makes them appealing to a wider audience, even those who aren't strictly following a plant-based diet.
  • Variety and Convenience: The packaged food and beverage industry is offering a growing variety of plant-based options, from convenient snacks and ready-made meals to gourmet cheeses and yogurts. This caters to diverse tastes and lifestyles.
  • Meeting Consumer Needs: F&B companies are profit-driven and need to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Plant-based options are a way to stay relevant and capture a growing market.
  • Innovation and Investment: Technological advancements allow for more realistic plant-based alternatives, attracting investment and encouraging companies to launch new product lines.
  • Growing Market: The plant-based food and beverage market is experiencing significant growth, attracting investment from both established companies and startups. This fuels further innovation and product development.
  • Competition: As the market grows, competition between traditional food companies and plant-based startups heats up, leading to a wider variety and potentially lower prices for consumers.
  • Ethical Considerations: Concerns about animal welfare are pushing some consumers towards plant-based options.
  • Sustainability Goals: Companies with sustainability goals may see plant-based products as a way to reduce their environmental impact



  • While advancements are impressive, some plant-based products still struggle to replicate the taste and texture of their animal-based counterparts. This can be a barrier to entry for some consumers.
  • Developing and producing plant-based alternatives often involves complex processes and high-quality ingredients, leading to higher prices compared to traditional options. Affordability remains a concern for some consumers.
  • While advancements are impressive, some plant-based products still struggle to replicate the taste and texture of their animal-based counterparts. This can be a barrier to entry for some consumers.
  • Regulations surrounding labelling and claims for plant-based products can be complex and vary by region. Navigating this landscape can be challenging for manufacturers.
  • With numerous companies entering the space, there's a risk of market saturation. Offering unique value propositions and catering to specific consumer needs will be crucial.

Market Growth and Investment

According to the data from Mintel Global New Products Database, the number of new packaged consumer goods launched with a plant-based claim has increased by 302% between 2018 and 2022.

The global plant-based food market is expected to reach $77.8bn in 2025. The forecast projects that by 2030 the market would have doubled.

This growth has attracted significant investment, with established companies launching new plant-based lines and startups specializing in this sector.

plant-based food

Beyond Meat Substitutes

The trend extends beyond traditional meat substitutes like burgers and sausages. Plant-based milk, yogurt, cheese, and even egg alternatives are gaining traction. Additionally, there's a growing interest in plant-based versions of sweets and snacks.

Now, there are more than just veggie burgers in the store. Lots of new and innovative plant-based foods are catching people's attention and making them eager to try.

  • Meat 2.0: Companies are making plant-based meat that looks and tastes more like real meat. Companies are using new tricks, like pea protein and special cooking methods, to make them feel, taste, and even look like real meat. This is great for people who don't eat a lot of meat but still want that meaty taste sometimes like plant-based pulled "pork" for sandwiches, fake "chicken" for tacos and plant-based fish fillets.
  • Dairy Done Differently:People see lots of plant-based milks in stores now, like soy, almond, oat, and even pea protein. But things are changing. Now, there's more than just milk alternatives. People are making plant-based yogurts that are creamy and tangy, giving big dairy companies some competition. Plant-based cheeses are showing up on pizzas and fancy snack plates, melting well and tasting good. And there's even plant-based ice creams and butters in our freezers and fridges, often boasting a clean label and a dairy-free indulgence.
  • Plant-Powered Snacks and Bakery: Snacking gets a healthy makeover with plant-based protein bars made from nuts, seeds, and legumes. Chickpea puffs and veggie chips offer a satisfying crunch with a nutritional punch. Bakery products are getting a plant-based revamp too, with delicious cookies, cakes, and muffins made with alternative flours and vegan chocolate chips.

Tech Drives the Plant-Based Revolution

Technology plays a crucial role in the rise of plant-based food in the packaged food and beverage industry. It's not just about creating new products; it's about optimizing every step of the process, from sourcing ingredients to ensuring consistent quality and deliciousness.

Precision Agriculture: Technology helps optimize plant-based crop yields through techniques like precision irrigation and data-driven soil analysis. This ensures efficient use of resources and promotes sustainable farming practices.

Supply Chain Transparency: Blockchain technology can track the journey of plant-based ingredients from farm to factory, providing consumers with transparency about sourcing practices and ensuring ethical and sustainable production.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): These powerful tools are used to analyze vast amounts of data on plant-based ingredients and create new combinations and formulations. This allows for the development of hyper-realistic meat and dairy alternatives with superior taste and texture.

Automation and Robotics: Automated processes and robotics can streamline production, ensuring consistent quality and lowering costs. This helps make plant-based products more affordable and accessible to a wider audience.

Impact on Packaged Food Companies

Traditional packaged food companies are taking notice. Many are launching their own plant-based product lines or acquiring plant-based food startups. This trend is likely to continue as consumer demand for these products strengthens.

The Future is Plant-Based

Plant-based food isn't just a temporary trend; it's a big change. It's not just about replacing animal products; it's about offering consumers healthy, sustainable, and delicious options that align with their values. With continued innovation, consumer demand, and investment, the future of plant-based food in packaged food and beverages looks vibrant and full of delicious possibilities.

While plant-based options may not completely replace animal products, their growing popularity signifies a significant shift in consumer preferences. The F&B sector is adapting to this new reality, offering a wider variety of delicious and sustainable plant-based options for consumers.


- Aishwarya Dinesh (Research Analyst)

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