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January 25, 2019

In a new series of blogs, we’re taking an enhanced look at the individual trends we identified in the 2019 Nourish Trend Report. First up, let’s dig into plant-based diets and the shifts occurring throughout the food and beverage industry.

With increased access to alternative proteins and heightened consumer awareness, we’re foreseeing the blurring (and perhaps eventual removal?) of lines between vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, and true omnivorous eating.

Shedding labels and old ways of thinking

Many modern consumers dip in and out of each category, dropping fixed diet-based labels for values-led eating resulting in a blended approach. The overall result is the majority of us are reducing our meat consumption, but not eliminating it entirely. Why? The top 3 reasons cited in a Dalhousie University study are animal welfare, environmental concerns, and health benefits. Interestingly, this trend is occurring across cultures and across generations. Perhaps eating less meat was one of your resolutions for the new year?

The shift has moved beyond being a consumer-led movement; even governments, despite some intense lobbying from the meat industry, are starting to recommend lower meat consumption. Since we published the Trend Report, a new version of Canada’s Food Guide came out, and it's shifting our focus from meat and dairy to vegetables, grains, and more plant-based protein. It also move away from prescribing portions and servings, instead offering suggestions like, “limit consumption of processed foods”, and “eat with others”.

And, what’s a trend without a catchy name? You may have seen “Veganuary” popping up on social in Canada recently. Launched in the UK in January 2014, Veganuary(pronounced vee-GAN-uary) is a registered charity that encourages people to adopt a vegan lifestyle for the month. While it’s showing up more in searches each year, searches around “flexitarian” dwarf them by comparison, further backing up the trend towards a blended diet.

Food biz trying to get ahead of the plant-based curve

Major players in every segment of the food and beverage industry are now hopping on the bandwagon. The expectation is that this trend will be a plant-based cash cow.

Taco Bell US is testing a vegetarian menu and became the first QSR (Quick Serve Restaurant) to be certified by the American Vegetarian Association. It’s a logical extension of an already veg-heavy menu (think guacamole and salsa) and makes meatless meals accessible to the masses.

Nestlé is pushing hard into vegan territory with its launch of the meatless Incredible Burger (watch out, Impossible Burger!). It’s part of the Swiss giant's plan to create a $1 billion business out of animal-free products.  

Not to be outdone in the juggernaut category, Unilever’s buyout of Vegetarian Butcher is the latest step on its, “journey towards more plant-based journey food.” Their goal: become the largest butcher in the world – which seems just a bit ironic!

Speaking of ironic, here at home, Canadian meat purveyor Greenfield Natural Meat Co. kicked off its Meatless Monday campaign just last year. Encouraging customers to forgo meat on Mondays, the high-end butcher cites the harmful environmental impact of meat production. As well as encouraging customers to share their pledge on social media, the company covers up product photos of its meat on its website every Monday. It sounds counterintuitive, but the results have been positive.

Want to know more about this and other trends, and how they’re going to affect your business? Download your free copy of the 2019 Nourish Trend Report today, including a trio of trends of specific interest to the Agri-food industry. It’s essential information that we’re happy to share to help you shift into high gear.