VoxPop: Is a plant-based diet the future? We ask people in the industry

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Veganism

At November’s FoodVision USA, we snatched several attendees to get their take on the rising popularity of plant-based diets and food.

“I think, definitely, plant-based is going to increase, and the reason really is the population increase,” ​Rakesh Popli, director of open innovation at The Hershey Company, told FoodNavigator-USA. “We can’t really just [rely] on animals.”

Earlier this year data from SPINS estimated US retail sales of plant-based foods and beverages grew 3.4% to $4.9bn​ in the year to June 12, 2016. The research firm defines the category as products formulated to be alternatives to animal-based foods and beverages, such as meat alternatives, non-dairy milk-like beverages, cheese alternatives, and tofu.

And brands in the category aren’t just targeting vegetarians and vegans. A report​ by Packaged Facts explained how, despite only 6% of the US population practices veganism, 36% of consumers report they use meat alternatives.

“These young adult consumers also tend to be concerned about their own health, but they have the most at stake when it comes to ensuring there are sufficient natural resources, like land and water, for the next generation,” Packaged Facts said in a press release​.

Not merely a ‘meat alternative’

At FoodVision USA, CEO of plant-based food brand Sweet Earth Natural Foods Kelly Swette argued in her presentation that the ‘future is plant-based.’ Just five years after the company was founded, the company is generating revenues of $20m​ in 2016.

With products available in 10,300+ stores nationwide, Swette’s marketing outlook reflects Packaged Facts’ findings—Sweet Earth is not just targeting vegans and vegetarians, said Swette, adding: “I don’t see our brand as a ‘meat-alternative’ brand. We’re just selling delicious food that happens to contain no meat.”

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