The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is a need to improve access to healthier foods. The center helps in solving this problem by working with communities and states, as well as encouraging consumers to buy healthier options. Businesses have a significant role, too. By providing healthier items in the market, healthier options become more accessible to people.
The Demand for Healthier Food Items
From meatless burgers to gluten-free flavored nut butter, more people are choosing a plant-based diet. A vegan diet is more than just a trend. It has plenty of health benefits such as reduction of heart diseases and cancer, as well as diabetes management.
Aside from health benefits, going vegan helps more citizens from suffering from hunger. Studies reveal that around 327 U.S. citizens can be fed by switching to a plant-based diet. By replacing animal farms with farm-producing plants, twice the American population can be sustained.
Because of the health and social benefits of a plant-based diet, there’s no wonder people are trying to choose healthily. Google searches reveal that in 2020, people have been increasingly interested in vegan recipes.
Are Americans going vegan?
The quick answer is no. Only a small portion of Americans have gone vegan but many are consuming plant-based alternatives. Plant-based food sales have seen an increase in revenue, growing up to 8.1% in 2017.
In the dairy industry, 40% percent of sales are plant-based alternatives such as soy, coconut, and nut milk. These numbers are telling: people may not be willing to give up animal-based products completely, but they are willing to try plant-based alternatives.
Americans have been trying to consume less meat to help the environment. Studies have consistently shown that animal farms are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions amounting to 14.5%. Moreover, these animals are fed by crops; to gain vast plots for these crops, trees are cut; these crops also require fertilizers to grow but the process is extremely harmful to the environment.
How to increase demand
There is a huge potential for businesses to earn revenue from plant-based food items. To maximize this potential, businesses must increase accessibility as well as convenience for consumers.
The Michigan State University found out that people are buying more prepacked fruits and vegetables than fresh ones. This is mainly because of convenience. In a fast-paced world, people want to eat healthier alternatives, however, they simply do not have enough time to prepare them.
In addition, sometimes, people simply do not know how to properly utilize fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based ingredients. Businesses can provide a solution to this problem: give recipes and include them in the packaging of their products. By doing so, consumers need not make an effort to research and encourage them to immediately buy the item in the grocery.
Moreover, fruits and vegetables are perishable goods. Therefore, consumers hesitate in buying these items for fear of wasting food and money. Businesses will find it more beneficial to promote frozen fruits and vegetables. Doing so will effectively preserve these items longer, eliminating customer fears.
Data reveals that the plant-based meat industry is on the rise. The meat-alternative business is projected to grow by the amount of $23.2 billion by 2024, according to Euromonitor, a market research company. Even Bill Gates invested in the industry. While the industry is good for the environment and people’s health, it is good for business, too.
However, despite the booming market for meatless products, there are certain barriers that it has to overcome. Included in these barriers are people’s cultural views. In Asia, for instance, plant-based products are perceived as food consumed by Buddhists. Because of religious perceptions, the industry’s appeal may be limited.
Additionally, the traditional meat industry is standing in the way. In 2018, a petition has been filed by the US Cattlemen’s Association to make the terms beef and meat exclusive for true meat products. To promote the growth of the meatless industry, these barriers need to be overcome.
Aside from meat alternatives, businesses have been shifting focus on healthier carbohydrates, too. Fortified rice and sugars are now introduced to help in solving health issues including diabetes and malnutrition.
By 2020, the sugar alternative industry is expected to increase by $16.5 billion. Companies are now focusing on producing rice grains that have improved nutritional value. By 2026, the fortified rice business is projected to increase by 6.1%.
The future is bright for businesses focusing on healthier food options. But it will only grow as much as its capability in making healthier items more appealing to consumers. The goal for these alternatives is to retain the familiar taste of traditional products. By doing so, consumers will feel that they are still getting the flavors they are used to while getting the health benefits they need.