2019 may have been the year that the new generation of plant-based meat alternatives firmly entered the public consciousness and saw Beyond Meat’s value soar after it listed on the Nasdaq. But 2020 looks like proving to be a year of further consolidation for faux meat products that taste closer than ever to the real thing. The increase in home cooking taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has meant the sector is one of the few to have benefitted from the turmoil.
Sales of plant-based burgers, minced (faux)meat and sausages recorded growth of 25% over the three months ending April 19th, compared to the same period last year. The data comes from market research company Kantar. Non-dairy milk alternatives such oat and soya milks showed similar growth over the last twelve months, with sales up 28.3% for the quarter.
The positive trend in sales growth for meat and dairy alternatives was in place before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers are changing their eating habits over concerns around both animal welfare and the meat and dairy farming sector’s impact on the environment.
The increase in the number of home cooked meals while people have been forced to remain at home for weeks on end appears to have helped accelerate the pick up in demand. Most categories of groceries have seen sales increase over the past couple of months. But for meat and dairy alternatives the impact, which has combined with a generally positive trend, has been more notable.
A survey recently conducted by the Vegan Society supported the trend apparent in the sales growth data published by Kantar. It found that one in five respondents said they had cut down on meat and dairy during lockdown. As well as ethical and environment concerns, a lack of availability of meat in supermarkets due to early panic buying may have contributed, along with more time to spend being creative and trying new things in the kitchen.
One in five of the respondents to the Vegan Society survey also said they plan to continue to buy plant-based meat alternatives after lockdown ends. The Kantar data also showed that over a full 12 months, meat and dairy alternatives saw sales rise 19.1% to £436.5 million. Globally, the value of sales of plant-based meat alternatives is, says a separate study by Research & Markets, set to reach $3.6 billion in 2020 and $4.2 billion in 2021.
The big U.S. companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger may be the best know plant-based meat brands but there are also British companies hoping to benefit from the quickly growing market. Meatless Farms, based in Leeds, said that its UK sales are up 210% over the past year. Founder Morten Toft Beck comments:
“This analysis of strong growth in plant-based [meat alternatives] mirrors what we are seeing on the ground.”