Plant Based World Expo Europe (PBWE) has unveiled its future predictions for the plant-based food and beverage industry, marking the beginning of ‘Plant Based 2.0’.
The global plant-based food market is predicted to hit $115.3 billion by 2035, and PBWE said it is preparing for its biggest show to date, taking place at a larger venue for the first time since its establishment – The Excel Centre in London, from 15-16 November 2023.
The event’s organisers have identified a number of long-term trends that they expect to see within the plant-based industry as it grows over the coming years.
Balancing retail demands
While innovators in the plant-based space have been expanding their ranges across categories in recent years – such as Oatly’s ventures into ice cream, yogurt and cheese – many brands are now turning the focus back to core ranges following pressure to create quality products and a shift toward business strategies focused on longer term profitability.
SPINS data has shown that customers purchasing plant-based products spend 61% more than the average shopper. PBWE highlighted that retailers must ‘get the balance right’ and provide quality plant-based products with a broader range of choice for high-value customers to maximise basket size.
Foodservice: choice, quality and leading with veg
Offering an entirely vegan menu is an increasing trend in foodservice, offering a more diverse range of high quality plant-based choices to consumers. Restaurants are also looking to reduce reliance on meat by offering more vegetable-led meals, a trend expected to continue in both foodservice and retail.
In the wake of debate around ultra-processed foods, clean labelling will continue to gain momentum and manufacturers must focus on transparency – for example, highlighting which plant proteins are used specifically, helping the public to expand its understanding of new food and protein from sources beyond meat and soya. Manufacturers have also ramped up production of natural vegetable flavours using Non-GMO approaches to meet the clean label demand.
Turning of the tide on plant-based seafood
The UN estimates that nearly 90% of the global marine fish population is overfished or depleted. While plant-based fish alternatives have struggled to take hold, PBWE believes, this is set to change following innovations seen this year such as the launch of the world’s first 3D-printed vegan salmon. Plant-based fish brands are also using algae to deliver nutrients such as omega 3 to achieve nutritional parity with traditional fish. Wider adoption of plant-based tuna, sashimi and other fish alternatives is expected in foodservice.
The UK is expected to see a shift toward more affordable plant proteins in response to the cost of living crisis. Aberystwyth University has recently announced a new £1 million pea protein project to reduce the UK’s reliance on soya imports, and at PBWE, European companies will showcase affordable protein solutions including textured pea and fava proteins.
Traditional production techniques go plant-based
Traditional production techniques such as smoking and fermenting are expected to become more extensive in plant-based than ever before this coming year. PBWE noted that it is seeing more companies that specialise in meat-based products now applying traditional production techniques to plant-based proteins.
Public sector campaigning
The Plant Based Universities campaign is active in more than 50 universities and is gaining momentum. More universities and education settings will act on their own climate research to both limit the public sector’s contribution to the climate and ecological emergency, and to help shift public opinion in favour of a plant-based food system. The public sector is also expected to opt for increasingly plant-based menus as healthcare, prisons and the care sector realise the benefits of providing fewer animal-based meals.
Calling on government and consumers
The UK’s National Food Strategy in 2022 recommended a 30% reduction in meat consumption, but PBWE highlighted that this may be seen as a ‘conservative’ target, adding that more can be done to reduce subsidies to the meat and dairy industries and invest in plant-based alternatives. The Plant Based Food Alliance UK will address this in a session, ‘Uniting the Plant-Based Industry to Lobby for Growth’ at the PBWE conference in November.
Consumer-facing campaigns are also expected to grow, described by PBWE as integral to the progress of educating the public on the importance of consumption habits.
Abigal Stevens, marketing director of PBWE organiser JD Events, said that with 43% of Gen-Z consumers claiming to be cutting meat from their diet in 2023, businesses must future-proof themselves and their offerings.
She added: “With innovation taking the plant-based industry to the next level, we’re calling on all areas of the wider food and beverage industry, governments, and the public to support this path we’re on – for the good of our collective health and that of the planet.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023
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