Food Industry Trend Watch: #3 Flexitarianism

The overwhelming global shift towards a plant-based focus.

In this six-part series, we explore the biggest food industry trends of 2021.

It’s no secret that plant-based diets have been emerging rapidly in recent years. Research is now showing that around 56% of consumers today are actively making efforts to have more plant-centric diets. Business Wire highlights that this is proving especially favourable for plant-based proteins, imitation meats and dairy alternatives. We attribute this behavioural shift to the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry on climate change as well as the rising scientific consensus that diets with a higher percentage of plant-based foods are generally better for human health than those centred around meat or dairy. Interestingly, diet variety and taste have also been recorded as contributing factors. In fact, according to an article published in Food Industry Executive, the focus on plant-based foods and beverages is currently so strong, that Innova Market Research has labelled it a “global phenomena”. As growth in numerous plant-based categories continues to surge, the sector is expected to respond with equally rapid product innovation.

However, although an increasing number of consumers are engaging in plant-based consumption, the total number of strict vegan or vegetarians is not rising at the same pace. This is largely due to the fact that meat-eaters are more likely to adopt flexitarianism than vegetarianism. Thus, the general tendency is one of meat replacement and reduction versus elimination. Balance being the operative word here. 

Consumers are scrutinising ingredients and production methods both in the meat sector and plant-based food sector now more than ever before. Health credentials, regionality and seasonality, organics, and sustainability all play a role in this process. And this precisely is where transparency comes in.

Read more in Trend Watch #4: Transparency!

Imagery: (1) Tijana Drndarski, (2) Lefteris Kallergis via unsplash.com

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