The popularity of plant-based food has been gathering momentum and reflects a growing sense of unease amongst some consumers over the impact that modern industrial farming methods have on the environment and animal welfare practices, as well as the impact of a predominately meat-based diet on our health.
The commercial opportunities created by the rise of vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based diets are clear. In Europe, sales of plant-based food are forecast to increase from £33m in 2015 to £658m by 2021. China's “free from meat” market, which includes plant-based products, has grown 33.5% since 2014 and is set to be worth $11.9 billion by 2023. Plant-based food sales in the US are now worth $3.7bn, with double digit growth across most categories of food.
However, the industry faces the challenge of meeting consumer demand while also protecting brand reputation and mitigating risk. How can brands connect with consumers, allowing them to make informed decisions, while confidently offering authentic plant-based products?
In response to these challenges, BRCGS published a White Paper in January to investigate the key factors driving the demand for sustainable plant-based food production and how brand owners and manufacturers are dealing with the demands placed upon them. Specifically, it addresses the need for a universal plant-based benchmark that guarantees consumers can make food choices with confidence and retailers can make informed choices about their supply chain.
It investigates the implications of the rise of the conscientious consumer who seeks to protect the environment, their long-term health and support animal welfare. Whilst also investigating the current state of play for food labelling, existing plant-based standards, the need to safeguard against animal-based allergens, and details the steps BRCGS are taking to ensure that the choice to embrace a plant-based diet is made simple for all those involved.
It presents an overview of evidence from a range of sources and considers the challenges involved in ensuring the role that standards play in helping both brands and consumers make informed choices regarding plant-based foods.