The rise of plant-based foods and products is one of the most surprising trends in decades. Ranging from beverages, burgers, and butter to dish soap and hair dye, products made from plant-derived ingredients have become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Plant-based foods in grocery stores are selling 20 percent more. Plant-based beverages are predicted to have a compound annual growth of 6% by 2028. The trend has not only revolutionized grocery stores, it has even affected the typically stalwart fast-food industry, causing some of the most stubborn and micro-focused brands in the world to offer plant-based burgers and more.
But it’s not just food and beverages that have been permanently altered by this market disruptor, it’s pretty much all products.
Soaps and cleaners
Many dish soap and cleaner companies are using plant-derived ingredients to produce natural soaps with no synthetic ingredients. The Honest Company, for instance, uses a combination of plant-based surfactants and food-grade preservatives, which creates a fresher smelling product that doesn’t irritate the skin. This particular product line also includes multi-surface cleaner products and hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
Burgers used to be the sole domain of meat – beef, pork, chicken, etc. But vegan and vegetarian burgers made from plant-based ingredients have arisen as a major new market niche. Beyond Meat’s market value recently surged to $21 billion and caused other major corporations to take notice and imitate.
Right on cue, Burger King entered the market with their Impossible Whopper, which is their classic Whopper but made with Impossible Foods’ plant-based patty. Dozens of fast-food chains and other food companies have jumped on board in the last few years, including White Castle Burger, Subway (actually, Subway was one of the first to offer a veggie patty sandwich), and many others.
The company Fora Foods launched a plant-based butter that uses aquafaba, which is a liquid ingredient found in cans of garbanzo beans.
According to Forbes, the plant-based butter industry has recently ballooned to $198 million. As with other plant-based products, experts believe that there are many factors playing into the new trend.
According to author Mark Hyman, who wrote the book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat, “There are a few reasons why I think so many people are interested in a more plant-based diet right now. Number one: people are stepping up to the realities of climate change, and factory-farmed meat and the way we grow most of the food in this country is damaging our land, our air, our water, our communities, and our bodies.”
Diet, he says, is part of that, and while plant-based butter still contains a lot of fat, it typically has less trans and saturated fat. It also has no dairy, which is good for people who are vegan or lactose-intolerant.
It’s commonly believed that as good as plant-based ingredients have gotten at recreating the taste of meat, seafood is where the adventure ends. But the company New Wave Foods is attempting to do the impossible: make a plant-based “shrimp” that tastes like a real crustacean from the ocean. Made with an algae-based derivative that tastes like fish, this new shrimpless shrimp will be available for sale in California and Nevada stores.
There are countless other examples of plant-based products: Coca-Cola’s line of dairy-free smoothies, called AdeZ; Dorito’s and its animal-free chip, Blaze; L’oreal’s Botanea line of totally plant-based hair dyes, which is considered an unexpected development that fills a huge market need; and Hakuna Banana, a non-dairy, plant-based ice cream and sorbet alternative referred to as “nice cream.”
There are also veggie tater tots, alternative pasta made with lentils instead of flour, potato chips made with avocado, etc. The list goes on and on. Plant-based products are truly taking over entire food and household appliance markets year after year.
How much further will this trend go? Many market analysts say the sky’s the limit, noting that concerns over the environment and the desire to eat healthier will likely not decrease in the coming years. If anything, they expect the plant-based trend to grow, as people become more aware of how animal agriculture drives climate change.