2019 is set to be the biggest year yet for plant-based products. For new and existing businesses, the opportunities for growth are substantial. Here are three key areas to understand.

Vegan, Veggie, Flexi

It tells you a lot about the UK hunger for plant-based food that while many F&B operations are closing stores, Pret are opening a fourth Veggie Pret—the first outside of London, this time in Manchester.

Photo courtesy of Pret a Manger

The store stocks a fully vegetarian and Vegan range but promotes itself to meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike.

Veggie Pret plant range

Photo courtesy of Pret a Manger

Similarly, London’s oldest and most prolific organic supermarket chain, Planet Organic, recently attracted a significant cash injection from a large investment company to help it double from its portfolio of seven stores to more than 14 in the next five years.

planet organic staircase

Photo courtesy of Planet Organic

Its latest branch on Tottenham Court Road has a number of offers, including grocery, health and beauty, grab and go coffee and healthy snacks and a full sit down dining offer.

planet organic grab and go

Photo courtesy of Planet Organic

Appetites are changing in London, the UK and around the world. Take vegan yogurt, for example. Vegan yogurt sales increased by over 30,000 metric tons in 2018 over 2017, according to a recent analysis by Fact.MR, thanks to a global rise in health and wellness concerns.

According to Sainsbury’s, a massive 91% of Brits have adopted a flexitarian diet, leading to a surge of interest in its vegan food range. In a UK first, the grocer will sell its meat-free alternatives next to the real deal in the meat, fish and poultry aisles.

Functional foods and nootropics

Nootropics are supplements and drugs that claim to enhance cognitive functions like intelligence, memory, creativity and attention. When added to existing food and drink products, these are called functional foods. A good example of this could be a loaf of bread with additional protein or fibre. Many nootropics are now being marketed with a plant-based edge.

protein bread

Photo courtesy of Morrisons

Thanks to the bustling lives of modern customers combined with an increased focus on natural food and drink, the energy drink market has seen a great deal of disruption over the last year. Grandview Market Research suggest sales of natural and organic energy drinks sales will reach $32bn by 2025, which accounts to nearly 40% of the market.

Energy drinks are most popular amongst young customers, and are marketed to college students, athletes and active individuals between the ages of 21 and 35 years old. According to FnB News, more than 40% of athletes use energy drinks to improve their exercises. Some of the most common ingredients include caffeine, guarana and ginseng. The addition of botanicals to many of the new breed of these natural energy drinks like Sun Soul and Botanic Lab is transforming the overall energy drink landscape through a more natural angle.

Photo courtesy of TheFoodMarket

Plant proteins

According to Mordor Intelligence, ‘the global plant protein market was valued at USD 6.41 billion in 2018, and is expected to register an estimated CAGR of 7.1%, during the forecast period, 2019-2024.’ Derived from plant-based proteins like soy, wheat and other veg, these products are being purchased by athletes and general gym-goers for their muscle repair and growing properties, without the need to resort to animal-based proteins.

vegan protein powder

Photo courtesy of Vega

Nutraingredients suggest plant-based protein supplements are growing at a faster rate than the overall protein supplement category. There is also significant growth to be had in this market, given that plant protein powders make up just 10% of total protein powder sales. The customer adoption drivers for pant-based protein seem different to the drivers for whey proteins.

For plant proteins, “Building muscle was not among the top benefits cited by consumers as a motivating factor for consuming plant-based foods and beverages”. Instead, plant proteins are benefiting from consumers wanting “health for today, health for tomorrow and health for the planet.”

Ultimately, all the empirical and anecdotal data suggests customers are actively searching for more ways to introduce plants into their diets. Brands that are able to capitalise on this will see successes going forward.

If you would like help determining how your plant-based brand should be realised, get in touch today.