How much is the plant-based industry worth?

The plant-based sector is one of the fastest growing food categories, experiencing double digit growth in 2019, and that trend is expecting to continue with sales estimated to reach $80 billion worldwide by 2024 (source).


What is plant-based?

It is commonly accepted that a plant-based product is one created without the use of animal-derived ingredients or by-products, including animal-ingredients used during processing or as a final ingredient.


Is plant-based the same as vegan?

The Vegan Society defines veganism is a lifestyle which excludes – as far as is possible and practicable – exploitation of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Therefore, it is likely that a plant-based product is suitable for vegans if it is also not tested on animals.


Are plant-based products allowed to call themselves meat/cheese/milk?

Labelling laws vary from country to country, and an increasing number of meat and dairy lobbying groups are attempting to restrict the terms plant-based companies can use to describe their product. Associations such as PBFA (in the US) and EAPF (in Europe) are working to prevent such legislation from being passed. We recommend manufacturers become a member of their local association to support such efforts and strengthen the industry. 


Who buys plant-based products?

The rapid growth of this industry is driven by consumers seeking healthier and more environmentally-friendly options. Frequently referred to as ‘flexitarians’, a recent YouGov report showed 13% of the UK’s population and 12% of the US population identify as a flexitarian. Many governments around the world have also acknowledged the health and climate benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption, leading to initiatives such as Meatless Monday in schools.


What is a flexitarian?

Somebody who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but occasionally includes meat.


Do plant-based meals need to be prepared separately?

Plant-based food is not considered an allergen or a religious diet and therefore is not subject to enforced standards during manufacturing and preparation. However, plant-based foods can often meet other dietary requirements such as lactose free and vegan when prepared in a controlled environment. Best practices include separate preparation areas, tools, cooking surfaces and oils/fats if fried.


Why is plant-based so popular?

There are three key motivations for purchasing plant-based products:

  1. Environment and Sustainability. Consumers are very aware of the impact their choices make on the climate crisis and plant-based foods are widely acknowledged to have a smaller carbon footprint. 
  2. Health. Plant-based meals are often considered a lighter option, many have fewer calories and more vegetables and fibre. Plant-based products have no cholesterol and are seen as a healthier alternative to animal-based products.
  3. Animal welfare. Plant-based products drastically reduce the harm to animals by cutting them out of the equation. For ethically-minded consumers, eating a plant-based diet can relieve them of the guilt of participating in intensive factory farming, without compromising on taste and texture.


Is soy bad for the environment? 

There have been allegations that soy, an ingredient commonly used in plant-based foods, is contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. However WWF state that almost 80% of global soy production is used to feed animals. If this was to be reduced with a global reduction in meat and poultry consumption, the impact of growing soy would be no more significant than other crops.