The Power of Plant-based Products
Plant-based eating, named the food trend of 2018, does not appear to be losing any steam. The humble vegetable has now been transformed into something that is exciting, tastes good, is versatile and, low and behold, good for you. Turns out that not only is the carrot the new carrot, but cauliflower is the new pizza crust, and pea protein is the new hamburger.
A Nielsen survey released last year illustrated the increasing demand for alternatives; it found that 43% of Canadians are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. Plant-based food options are now big business for retailers. According to data from Nielsen, plant-based products in 2017 accounted for 19.5% of total food and beverage dollars spent. 
With product innovation on the rise and triple-digit sales growth for plant-based products in both conventional and natural retail channels, there are a few key trends driving growth in this buzz-worthy category.
Veggies Made Easy
One of the breakout ingredient stars in the plant-based category is cauliflower, which is now showing up as a credible substitute for traditionally carb-based products like pizza crust, pasta products and is even seen in baking mixes.
Not Your Grandma’s Veggie Burger
Over half of Canadians (53%) claim they eat meat alternatives, with burgers as the most popular option.  With improvements in ingredients and formulation technologies, plant-based meat alternatives are more and more like the real thing and are attracting a broader base of consumers.
Dairy, But Not Really
Perhaps no other category has been more impacted by the plant-based movement than dairy, which has seen seismic changes from plant-based ingredients, especially in the milk category. These products have seen unprecedented acceptance. Dairy will likely continue to see innovation and disruption in additional categories from yogurts and ice cream to plant-based creamers, utilizing ingredient options likes oats, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, and flax.
Written by Yuriko Kitano, Senior Marketing Insights Manager at Tree of Life Canada
- Plant-based food options are sprouting growth for retailers. Nielsen.com
- Mintel, Meat Alternatives – Canada – January 2018