12 Jun 2020
It’s what many experts believe will occur in all industries in the coming months due to the worldwide pandemic  . With millions of people around the world still confined, and many others adjusting back to “normal life”, many people are wondering how can the future look anything like what we once knew. This transformation might be scary for some. However, the reality is that the food industry is always evolving. Which begs the question, where is it headed next?
One belief is that plant based will play an important role in the consumers new normal. In April, IPSOS interviewed 28,000 people worldwide: 79% of those consumers stated they will seek out products that are healthier and better for the environment. And in some countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, up to 91% of respondents agreed with that statement. And with intent often comes growth; in China the plant based meat alternative market is expected to grow to $12 billion by 2023, up from $10 billion in 2018.
Why is the plant based market expected to grow so quickly? What started out as a grass roots effort against animal cruelty, the plant based diet then transitioned to a trend adopted from celebrities ranging from Paul McCartney to Miley Cyrus. Now that it has the halo effect, it’s no surprise there are over 94 million pictures tagged “#vegan” and over 28 million tagged #plantbased on Instagram.
But it seems the driving factors are changing; and at a fast pace. From recent surveys such as the IPSOS survey mentioned above, consumers are now making choices that are not only good for them, but also that are sustainable for the planet. This makes plant based alternatives the solution to their wishes.
So are plant based solutions healthier? Eating purely a plant based diet doesn’t equate to perfect health; however if it’s paired with balanced and nutrient rich meals, it can certainly lead to good health. This is seen in hundreds of studies conducted around the world, which show that, when compared with the average Western diets, an increased consumption of plant based foods such as wholegrains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health conditions.
And in terms of sustainability, consumers believe that by switching to a more plant based diet, they can not only better the livelihood of themselves and animals, but it is also possible to make the world a better place. Animal products use increasingly more resources than plant based products. Many studies and forecasts have shown that shifting away from animal based products can significantly reduce carbon emissions, water usage, and waste by products that end up in our oceans.
Consumers around the world clearly care about their health and sustainability, and for good reason. But will this drive forward and be lasting? Oftentimes, the most lasting impact in the industry occurs when both consumers and businesses choose to make it a priority.
A great example of this is HACCP, which is a management system and process to address food safety. After decades of mass recalls and public outcry, HACCP finally became widely adopted by food manufacturers internationally, and was adopted as mandatory by many governments around the world. This initiative ultimately impacted consumers health and hygiene for the better, for decades to come. In the US, in 1985, with a population of 237 million people, there were over 31,000 foodborne illness cases reported. In 2017, with a population of 325 million, there were less than 15,000 cases. Food manufacturers took drastic steps to save people’s lives, and it worked.
Now many people are wondering, will the members of the food industry be just as considerate for animals? For consumers’ health? Or for the planet? Or will it be left to consumers to continue this initiative towards a more sustainable lifestyle?
By taking accountability for the food we produce, the food industry has an opportunity to drive lasting impact. As bakers, patissiers, and chocolatiers, we can wait until everyone is demanding plant based, or can we take proactive steps to provide delicious, healthy and sustainable products for our customers.
While replacing butter, eggs, and milk might not seem easy in baking, to help you begin we’ve gathered our top plant based bakery, patisserie, and chocolate solutions: