When most people think of plant-based proteins they picture products like tofu and veggie burgers. However, the plant-based foods industry has started to move towards products that look and taste like meat without any animals involved. These new options are being advertised as a healthy and sustainable alternative for those who choose not to consume meat in addition to those who do.
Plant-based versions of burgers, sausage patties and chicken nuggets created to taste like the real thing are starting to appear in most grocery stores. More recently, they have started to gain traction and appear on the menus of popular restaurants and fast food chains. Technomic Ignite menu data predicts that plant-based proteins will grow 35% on menus by the end of 2022. Their rise in popularity can be credited to a change in consumer perspective. Plant-based proteins are largely recognized as an alternative for vegetarians, vegans and other lifestyles that choose not to consume meat or animal products. While this still holds true, growing sustainability concerns have consumers outside of these lifestyles picking plant-based options off of the menu. Meat consumption is a major contributor to environmental damage and consumers are in search of another option that tastes just as good. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are working to provide a solution.
McDonald’s recently announced its three-year deal with Beyond Meat, making them the “preferred supplier” for the meatless burger in the McPlant. The two companies plan on exploring and co-developing other plant-based items like chicken, pork and eggs. Beyond Meat also has partnerships with PepsiCo and Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
Tesco, a grocery and general merchandise retailer based in the U.K., pledged to increase its sale of plant-based proteins and meat alternatives by 300% by 2025. To reach their goal, Tesco plans to make these products more available, affordable and visible to shoppers who visit their stores. Tesco will also be working directly with their suppliers to bring new plant-based innovations to customers.
What this Means for Supply Chains
The popularity of plant-based proteins and other alternatives have disrupted the global meat industry in a way that traditional burger companies did not expect. Before plant-based options became popular, burgers made of meat did not have a competitor. As demand launches meat-free alternatives out of grocery stores and into restaurants all over the country, plant based proteins and their supply chains have their work cut out for them.
As the plant-based protein industry continues to expand and create new products, companies will need to rely on their supply chains to keep things running smoothly!