Popularity of plant proteins continues to grow

February 24, 2016

The thriving and growing market for plant proteins has given Americans the push to become less reliant upon—or in some cases even entirely forgo—animal-based protein sources, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the new report, “Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends: Plant Proteins.”

“Consumer interest in boosting protein intake remains strong headed into 2016 with more attention being paid to the specific types of protein being consumed,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “The desire for clean labels, ease of digestion, the need or desire to avoid allergens, compatibility with vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and concerns about sustainability among the general population are putting the spotlight on plant proteins. Consumer notions of what constitutes a good protein source are expanding to include a wider variety of plant protein ingredients. Subsequently, interest in plant protein ingredients among food manufacturers and foodservice operators is intensifying.”

In the United States, the current high level of interest in plant proteins can be attributed to the convergence of several factors among which increased consumer awareness and demand for dietary protein play a key role. Heightened consumer interest in flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan lifestyles is in part a result of a growing list of concerns related to meat production and consumption that includes environmental and economic sustainability, the presence of antibiotic and hormone residues, and inhumane treatment of animals. The greater affordability of vegetarian protein options also is not to be overlooked. Concurrently, a growing list of health benefits is being associated with plant-based diets.

On a global basis, alternate protein sources will grow faster than meat and seafood, which currently dominate but will begin to wane in coming decades. Global production increases are expected for protein-rich crops including soy, peas, rice, flax, canola, and lupin.

Research conducted by Packaged Facts indicates that 37% of consumers aged 25–39 are likely to seek out plant proteins, the highest of any age group, followed by 22% of adults under age 25. Similarly, at least 25% of Asian, Hispanic, and African American consumers report seeking out vegetarian protein sources, compared to 15% of Caucasian consumers. In general, men and adults holding advanced college degrees are more inclined to seek out plant protein.

Press release