Emer O’Shea, New York Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board

The food world is continuing to be dominated by plant-based food products and diets and “plant-based” is set to become the one of the biggest food trends of 2018. According to Mintel, vegetarian claims rose by 25% and vegan claims rose by 257% between 2012 and 2016, and almost a third of Americans now practice meat-free days.

Plant-based is going high-tech

High-tech is becoming a sub-section of the plant-based trend in 2018, according to Hampton Creek, a billion-dollar food start-up in Silicon Valley.

Beef burger alternatives in the spotlight

Two companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have penetrated the mainstream market with their plant-based burgers which are made to look and taste similar to beef burgers, even “bleeding” like real beef (Impossible Foods does this by taking heme from plants, and Beyond Meat uses beet juice extract).

Beyond Meat has attracted attention from some big investors such as Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and even investors with backgrounds in the meat industry such as Tyson Foods, which produce a fifth of all meat consumed in the US, and venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue, which is run by Don Thompson, the former CEO of McDonalds Corp. It is now a $120 million company and their “Beyond Burger” is available in over 5,000 grocery stores and on the menus at thousands of campuses, hotels and restaurants in the US, including food chains such as TGI Fridays, Bareburger and BurgerFi.

What does this mean for the meat industry?

Although plant-based substitutes are on-trend, they haven’t yet made a large impact on the US consumer market and are not expected to significantly dent sales of animal-sourced products just yet. Sales of meat substitutes in US supermarkets rose by 6% in 2016, which is just 2% of the overall meat market.

98% of Americans still eat meat at least once a week and US consumption of meat is actually rising. It is predicted that Americans will eat more meat, dairy and eggs in 2018 than ever before and, according to the USDA, the average person will consume almost 10 ounces of meat and poultry per day.

For more information, please contact emer.oshea@ucdconnect.ie.

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