The State of Plant-Based Demand

November 7th, 2021

Alt-Dairy Series

Explore the factors driving plant-based demand, including:

  • Increased consumer interest in health and wellness
  • Growing concern about environmental sustainability
  • Shifting demographics

Plant-based innovation shows no signs of slowing. Global demand for plant-based alternatives is on the rise, with more than 60% of global consumers saying they are striving to eat more plant-based foods and beverages.1

This strong demand represents an ideal opportunity for brands. In 2020, the retail market for plant-based foods in the U.S. reached $7 billion. Sales also grew dramatically from 2018 to 2020 — at nearly two times faster than total food sales.2

What's behind the surge in plant-based purchases? Here are three trends:

1. Interest in health and wellness

More consumers are pursuing specialty diets for a healthier, cleaner lifestyle. Many are incorporating additional plant-based foods into their diet, while others are switching to fully plant-based, vegetarian or vegan. In the U.S., 65% of consumers who chose a plant-based-focused lifestyle did it for the general health benefits.2

About 33% of plant-based protein eaters said they are enjoying more plant-based food than a year ago, and indicated they were influenced by health-related concerns sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a 2021 Mintel report. They're also achieving more meal variety by trying different types of meat alternatives.3

MicrosoftTeams-image (5)

2. Environmental concerns

Many consumers - especially younger adults - believe plant-based alternatives help the environment. In Europe, 67% of consumers say they would be willing to change their eating habits for environmental reasons.4

But consumers want to make sure companies validate their plant-based claims, according to Mintel. If plant-based claims follow the same path as all-natural, it will not be enough to simply label food as "plant-based" for the long-term. Brands will be expected to prove that their plant-based products and ingredients are better for people and the environment.

3. Shifting demographics

Younger consumers are driving much of this change, as nearly three-quarters (73%)5of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, for example. These generations are vital for future growth, as Gen Z and millennials make up 63% of the global population6 and have nearly $350 billion in combined spending power in the U.S. alone.7  Plant-based ingredients are also appealing to consumers who are motivated by healthy foods that offer more convenience, such as prepared foods and meals, according to Mintel.


"Majority of Consumers Eating More Plant-Based Foods," Specialty Food. Nov. 2018.
The Good Food Institute. 2021.
Mintel, "Plant-based Proteins - US - May 2021" & "Are plant-based claims the next 'all-natural'?"
"SHIFT20: How are consumers thinking about plant-based eating? Mattson unveils new survey data," Food Navigator. July 2020.
"Almost 70% Of Europeans 'Open To Changing Their Eating Habits' For The Planet," Plant Based News. June 2020.
"Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail," First Insight. 2020.
"Gen Z Is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year," Bloomberg. Aug. 2018.

Subscribe for More
Blue Diamond Insights

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.