The Global Plant-based Meat Revolution

In our last report, we focused on the vegan ice cream market to highlight market trends and opportunities. For this report, we're shifting gears to the plant-based meat market, which continues to grow at phenomenal rates.

From 2019 to 2025, the alternative meat market is anticipated to expand by 15% on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) basis to reach US$28 billion. (1) This will significantly outpace the 3.4% CAGR predicted for the real meat market from 2019 to 2026. (2) Based on current projections for alternative meat to perform similarly to plant-based mylk and reach 14% of the total retail market in the US, we foresee the global alternative meat market reaching US$61 billion by 2030. (3) Compared to its market size of US$12 billion in 2019, this represents a US$49 billion market opportunity.

Whether you're a market analyst, an investor, a plant-based meat brand or even a traditional meat producer, we're armed with insights from our unique, member-generated dataset to help you better understand the fastest-growing segments of the market. Read on to get the latest scoop!

Global interest in consumer demand for packaged plant-based meat leaped by 12x...

From 2019 Q3 to 2020 Q3, global product reviews of packaged meat alternatives posted by consumers on the abillionveg app surged by 12x, demonstrating a robust momentum in consumer interest for plant-based meat. In addition, demand is broadening beyond the North American market. Even as alternative meat reviews in North America increased by 7x from 2019 Q3 to 2020 Q3, its share of global reviews edged down to a third of the global market, from one half. This was driven by the explosive growth in other regions, most notably South America and Europe.

Specifically, from 2019 Q3 to 2020 Q3, reviews of plant-based meat products by members in South America and Europe skyrocketed by 38x and 31x respectively. In fact, based on member reviews, Europe has overtaken North America as the top continent for alternative meat demand.

What might the future composition of plant-based meat demand across continents look like?

Taking into account population sizes and per capita meat consumption, Asia, Europe, South Africa, and the US made up around 47%, 18%, 15%, and 13% of global meat consumption in 2019 respectively. (4,5) As the second-largest real meat consumer, we believe that Europe will continue to have the most demand for plant-based meat in the next five years. Recognizing the huge growth potential in Europe, major companies such as Beyond Meat are already investing in their capabilities to serve European consumers. (6) Apart from Europe, Asia, which is the top consumer of animal-based meat mainly due to its sheer population size, also holds incredible growth potential. As the socially responsible consumption movement is still in its nascent stages in Asia, we expect the take up of plant-based meat among Asian consumers to catch up with Europe and North America in the longer term. Likewise, the South American alternative meat market is forecasted to double its 2018 value by 2023, buttressed by the rising popularity of the vegan lifestyle in the region. (7)

Our country-level assessment shows that the robust demand growth for plant-based meat in Europe was led by a huge wave of consumer interest from Spain and the UK, where the demand expanded by 30x and 17x respectively from 2019 Q3 to 2020 Q3. In particular, four of the top 10 European cities known for plant-based living are from Spain, a reflection of rising concerns on animal welfare, the environment, and personal health among Spanish consumers. (8)

Over the same period, the strong upward trajectory in the popularity of plant-based meat in South America was driven primarily by Argentina, where member reviews rose by 34x to reach 1.7k reviews. While Argentinians are usually known for their voracious appetite for animal meat, they are increasingly keen to swap out animal products for those made with plants. For instance, a 2019 survey discovered that six out of every 10 consumers in Argentina were considering going vegan. (9) Meanwhile, the demand from US consumers grew at a healthy pace despite its larger base of reviews on our platform. Our analysis shows that plant-based meat companies should prepare to enter markets like Argentina, Spain, the UK, and South Africa, which are at the early stages of rapid growth.

...as interest in the socially conscious lifestyle goes mass market

The exponential growth observed for plant-based meat came on the back of a surge in interest for socially responsible consumption, especially from the omnivores and flexitarians.

A large chunk of our members today aren't vegan or vegetarian but are meat-eaters looking to reduce their meat consumption and that's how they find us. The abillionveg app is about creating a meritocracy of vegan food so that plant-based items are available not just for vegans or vegetarians, but for every consumer in the world.

-Vikas Garg, Founder & CEO, abillionveg

For instance, although the abillionveg community is expanding steadily across consumers with various dietary profiles, we are witnessing exceptionally high growth for members who do not identify themselves as vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, or pescatarian. For instance, from May to August 2020, the number of new members on our platform under the Others category skyrocketed by more than 7x. More than 5,200 flexitarians (a person with a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish) joined the abillionveg community in August, which was 3x the level in May. Meanwhile, interest from vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, and pescatarian consumers grew at a steady pace from month to month.

Clearly, the conscious consumption movement is not only powered by vegans or vegetarians but has also taken the mass market by storm. Indeed, both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat estimate that more than 90% of their customers are not vegan or vegetarian. (10) The rise in interest in alternative meats was also likely boosted by the global Coronavirus pandemic, which not only drew attention to food safety and eating behaviors but also resulted in supply chain disruptions and traditional meat shortages. (11) According to Nielsen data, Coronavirus lockdowns across the globe spurred a 264% boom in the demand for plant-based meat. (12) We believe this boom will continue into the coming years as more consumers become aware of the negative health and environmental effects of excessive meat consumption.

Aggressive expansions by publicly-funded Beyond Meat has fueled its market domination while Impossible Food's strong suit is in B2B

Which brands are leading the global plant-based meat revolution?

Combining our data on product and dish reviews, we found that Beyond Meat is the most popular plant-based meat brand among our members, followed by Impossible Foods. Drawing from 300,000 independent reviews from our members, both brands were ranked in the top three positions of our Top 20 Plant-based Burger awards. The exceptional performance of Beyond Meat can be attributed to the company's aggressive ramp up in global production following its public offering in 2019. (13)

Interestingly, our analysis revealed that in the business-to-consumer (B2C) segment, Beyond Meat is followed closely by Gardein whereas Impossible Foods, OmniMeat, and Heura are Beyond Meat's key contenders in the business-to-business (B2B) space. This shows that for brands that have focused on either one of the B2C or B2B segments, sizable growth opportunities exist to enter the other. For instance, Impossible Foods expects its retail footprint to expand more than 50-fold in 2020, and are moving quickly to work with supermarkets and grocery stores to stock its products. (14)

Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and OmniMeat leading the plant-based meat movement in Asia

The performance of the top alternative meat brands varies across geographical markets. While Beyond Meat has a clear lead in North America and Europe, the race is extremely close in Asia, where consumer interest for Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat products are neck and neck. Trailing closely behind Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in Asia is OmniMeat, which has most recently launched its plant-based luncheon meat product in the region to target the processed meat segment. (15) In Africa, Fry's Family Food Co, also one of our Top 20 Plant-based Burger Awards winners, outperforms other plant-based meat brands, including Beyond Meat.


Is the alternative meat movement exclusive to beef?

From our analysis of alternative meat types, plant-based beef products were the most popular, followed by chicken. Plant-based pork garnered significantly more reviews in Asia than in other continents, reflecting the wider availability of OmniPork and the cultural preference for pork in the region. In addition, our data shows that there are significantly more market players in the beef and chicken substitute segments relative to the alternative pork and turkey segments. According to the Good Food Institute (GFI), plant-based pork is the fastest-growing plant-based meat category, with growth partly accelerated by global pork shortages which was in turn triggered by the African swine flu. Within the next decade, GFI projects that the plant-based pork segment could exceed US$1.5 billion in the US alone. (16)

We recommend plant-based meat brands to incorporate pork alternatives to their product ranges quickly to capture market share, especially in Europe, North America, and Asia, where pork is popular. For example, after mainly focusing on beef-like products made from plants, Impossible Foods has set its sights on reducing pork consumption and has recently launched two plant-based pork products, Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage, in Asia. (17)

A rising tide of socially responsible consumption lifts all plant-based boats

Is the explosive growth for plant-based meat that mimics the taste of real meat cannibalizing demand for traditional vegetarian meat brands?

Plant-based meat products can be differentiated by their target audience - while brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are all about getting meat eaters to salivate over their products, other companies such as Veggieland and Kioene create alternative meat products which are not intended to look, taste, or feel like real meat. The latter type of alternative meat products, such as Kioene's Hamburguesa Vegetal con Semillas de Calabaza y Girasol (Vegetable Burger with Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds), are typically made from tofu, beans, and other vegetables. Since March 2020, consumer interest for Veggieland, Kioene, and Gutbio has jumped by more than 3x.


Our research suggests that the demand surge for high-profile plant-based meats like Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger has grabbed the attention of the mass market, resulting in positive spillovers for players that produce more traditional vegetarian meat products. There are clear cross-synergies between the two types of plant-based meats, and we foresee both groups coexisting to make up a virtuous, healthy ecosystem of alternative meat producers that appeal to consumers regardless of their dietary preferences.

The future of meat is set to be plant-based

With intensifying concerns on the negative environmental, ethical, and health impact of animal factory farming, the plant-based meat movement is gaining speed across the globe, creating a multi-billion dollar market opportunity. Our analysis of the plant-based meat category showed that the global demand for packaged meat alternatives has surged. Demand has broadened beyond the North American market, and we foresee huge growth potential in Europe, South America, and Asia. This rapid expansion comes on the back of increasing interest in socially responsible consumption, which is driven not only by vegans and vegetarians but also omnivores and flexitarians.

In addition, we discovered that most brands leading the alternative meat movement, apart from Beyond Meat, have thus far focused on either the B2C or B2B segment. This is indicative of the sizable growth opportunities that exist as companies start to expand their footprint into the other segment. In the longer term, we recommend brands and companies to start investing earlier in the Asian region and to incorporate pork products into their plant-based meat range. Interestingly, we found that alternative meat products which are not targeted towards meat-eaters are also benefiting from the attention garnered by high profile plant-based meat brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, and are experiencing rapid growth in consumer interest.

The future of meat is set to be plant-based, and we advise firms to invest strategically as soon as possible to be a part of this revolutionary movement. We will continue to bring you updates on this global trend to support your market strategy and investment decisions.

Authors:

Ravi Gopalan, @ravi-gopalan

Maria Tan, @mariaubergine




References

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