By Tonya Garcia, MarketWatch
A meatless meal was once a radical proposition for many consumers.
Now that health and wellness concerns are top of mind and plant-based meats offer up new and delicious flavors, a diet where vegetables and protein alternatives show up prominently is much more commonplace.
”Plant-based alternatives have absolutely gone mainstream and are gaining much more acceptance among consumers,” said Lizzy Freier, managing editor at Technomic, a data and analytics provider for the food-service industry.
“As people become more familiar with it, it’s now being integrated as something that’s just as tasty as traditional meat and something that’s sustainable. So I think the focus of late has been more on taste and sustainability and less on health.”
Market research firm CFRA forecasts that the global alternative meat industry will grow to $100 billion in sales by 2030, up from about $19 billion in 2018. As of October 2019, analysts estimated that the U.S. alternative meat market was only about $2.4 billion.
The global meat market is about $1.4 trillion.
At first, plant-based alternatives were viewed mostly through the wellness lens.
“That health piece has become cost of entry and now consumers are talking about taste,” said Risa Schwartz, global lead for consumer insights and analytics at Tyson Foods inc. /zigman2/quotes/201117502/composite TSN +1.03%
There’s a “reframing” of protein going on, Schwartz said, such that consumers are looking for it in different places and at different times of day. That includes snacks and breakfast.
In addition, plant-based alternatives are showing up on children’s plates as millennials pass on their desire for a more diverse menu.
“Parents are more willing to have kids try new things, but it’s about the form it takes,” Schwartz said.
Tyson’s plant-based protein brand Raised & Rooted offers nuggets for these young consumers, Schwartz says, as an example. It’s a familiar food made in a new way.
Raised & Rooted was available in 7,000 stores as of November 2019. Kroger Co. /zigman2/quotes/206215053/composite KR +0.37% also announced that it is launching its own private-label brand, Emerge: Plant Based Fresh Meats, adding the availability of these items.
Taste is a significant factor for Beyond Meat Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211617595/composite BYND -0.26% , even as the company emphasizes it as an eco-friendly alternative.