Plant-based is trending. What’s a brand to do?

If everyone ate a vegetarian diet one-third of early DEATHS might not happen.

Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to AVOID climate change.

These two statements should are part of the buzz that is causing consumers to run toward plant-based protein brands. And part of the reason that marketers should consider doing the same.

Studies show that those on a plant-based diet will have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

To add to the consumer health benefits, a new study published earlier this year said that eating less meat and dairy is a critical way to help the health of the environment. Raising animals for food is a major contributor to climate change and is actually responsible for an estimated 14.5% of all global emissions.

And the great news is, we don’t need to go all the way to Vegan. A shift to a flexitarian diet can help keep climate change under control, but to make this happen the average world citizen needs to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork, and half the number of eggs. Avoiding meat and dairy products, and encouraging others to do the same, is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact.

That means we also need to eat three times as many beans and pulses and four times as many nuts and seeds. That sounds like a big opportunity for brands.

Brands like Danone saw the plant-based revolution coming early on and started buying up popular plant-based milk to hold on to their market share. In 2017, they purchased WhiteWave the parent organization of Silk, So Delicious, Alpro and Vega Brands, bringing together a huge portfolio of dairy and plant-based products. Their stated mission; to “better serve consumers with diverse preferences in high growth and evolving categories.”

More good news and a big reason consumers are willing to move to plant-based, the taste is improving dramatically. Until a couple of years ago, plant-based products were only for people that were Vegan or had Allergies, but now more and more people are eating them because they are protein rich and actually taste good. Explore Cuisine is a personal favorite and they are making delicious Edamame Spaghetti (among many other noodles) that has 24g of protein, as opposed to just 8g in serving of regular pasta.

And here’s real innovation, brands like Ahimi and Sophie’s Kitchen are even making plant-based fish that tastes and feels like real fish. Ahimi is just a Roma tomato in place of raw tuna with five ingredients including soy sauce, and sesame oil that has the same meaty texture as a real piece of sushi tuna. Sophie’s Kitchen makes Konjac, an Asian root vegetable, and adds pea protein to make smoked salmon and canned tuna that tastes like fish without the fish.

The plant-based market is taking over just about every aisle in the grocery store, from fish to milk to pasta and everywhere in between. If you want to figure out how your brand can make the most of this rapidly growing trend, I can help.

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