A few weeks ago my blog “Demand Booming for Plant-Based Proteins in Food, Beverages" addressed the growing awareness and usage of plant-based protein, and the resulting proliferation of protein-rich and protein-enriched products across an array of food and beverage categories.
Consumer notions of what constitutes a good protein source are expanding to include a wider variety of plant-based protein ingredients. Moreover, the desire for clean labels, ease of digestion, the need or desire to avoid allergens, compatibility with vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and concerns about sustainability among the general population are putting the spotlight on plant proteins. Add to that the United Nations declaring 2016 as the “Year of the Pulse" and there’s no denying the impact plant-based proteins will have on future food and beverage development.
This is why yesterday’s announcement of the launch of the Plant Based Foods Association is so timely. The association, comprised of 23 food companies, is the first trade group to represent the $3.5 billion plant-based foods sector. Its mission is to engage in education, promotion and advance policies to meet the increasing consumer demand for plant-based foods.
“Every other sector of the food industry—from sugar to organics—is represented in the policy arena," said Michele Simon, executive director, Plant Based Foods Association. “The time has come for the plant-based food industry to also have a collective voice."
According to new data from SPINS, the total market for this sector, (excluding data from Whole Foods Market) tops nearly $3.5 billion in sales. The category includes plant-based versions of meat, tofu, milk, yogurt, cheese and cream, and has grown more than 8.7 percent over the last two years, while general food and beverage sector growth has been just 3.7 percent over the same period.
Driving the growth are plant-based milks, which at $2.1 billion in sales have enjoyed 14.4-percent growth in total sales volume over the last two years. Plant-based meats, including meatless burgers, nuggets, tempeh and tofu accounts for more than $865 million in sales, with burgers representing the largest portion of the category, and tofu leading the growth at 7 percent over the last two years. With major advances in flavor and mouthfeel, plant-based yogurts, though still a smaller subcategory, have seen mighty growth, topping 12.7 percent over two years
Founding board members are Daiya Foods, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Kitchen, The Tofurky Company and Upton’s Natural. Eighteen food companies have joined as charter members, including:
- Axiom Foods
- Beanfields Snacks
- Califia Farms
- Freja’s Foods
- Heidi Ho
- Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
- Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss
- Malk Organic
- Match Meats
- Melt Organic
- New Barn
- New Wave Foods
- Next Level Burger
- Real Food Daily
- Sweet Earth Natural Foods
- Treeline Cheese
- Tofuna Fysh
“In the next five to 10 years, we are going to see a massive explosion of interest in plant-based foods. We are going to see many new companies and many success stories," said Jaime Athos, CEO of The Tofurky Company and board president for the Plant Based Foods Association.
Last month, the association’s policy and partnerships consultant, Elizabeth Kucinich, offered testimony at a listening session hosted by the USDA in Washington D.C. regarding the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Input will be shared with the Institute of Medicine, as that body reviews the scientific process for the 2020 DGA. Among other points, the association emphasized the need for the guidelines to help Americans consume more plant-based foods, both for their health and that of the planet.