Flexitarianism: The Consumption of Plant-based Food is the New Future

Flexitarians are people who have consciously decided on cutting down the meat content in their diet, not completely but to a major extent. This conscious decision is made considering the health and environmental benefits the diet offers, which include preventive health care and animal welfare, respectively. Hence, a flexitarian diet is majorly a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of dairy and meat products.

MarketsandMarkets™ Viewpoints:

Globally, the food & beverage industry is witnessing a drastic shift in consumer behaviors regarding their food & beverage choices. The scenario is evitable with the sudden rise in consumer demand for plant-based products rather than the products derived from animal origin. After the much-talked-about vegan trend, which is quite restrictive and completely eliminates the consumption of animal-derived products, including dairy; a flexitarian diet is somewhat flexible and occasionally allows the consumption of meat and dairy products. Consumers these days are looking for healthier and sustainable food options with reduced fat content, which drives the demand for plant-based products. Also, the growing cases of lactose intolerance around the globe bolster the demand for plant-based food & beverages. Hence, due to health concerns and sustainability issues, consuming products imbibed with plant protein is becoming a popular trend across the globe. – said Pratiti Nayyar (Senior Research Associate at MarketsandMarkets™).

Nishikant Yadav (Associate Manager – Food, Beverage, Animal Nutrition, and Agriculture at MarketsandMarkets™) added that plant-based diets are becoming popular across the globe and are anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 18% between 2019 and 2030. Plant-based meat and beverages are the two main categories of plant-based food that are experiencing huge demand from consumers around the world. Plant-based meat has proven to be a revolutionary innovation as it aids in reducing meat consumption, thereby reducing various health and environmental concerns. The American Society for Nutrition (US) and Good Food Institute (US) have stated with evidence that plant-based foods lead to salutary well-being. Consumers are now becoming more aware and educated about the high nutrient profile of plant-based food as well as about the disadvantages associated with processed food, as essential components are stripped off while processing them.

Industry Dynamics:

The current plant-based food & beverage industry is highly dynamic and growth in this industry is fueled by factors such as:

  • Growing inclination toward healthy lifestyles
  • Associated health concerns among consumers for lactose intolerance. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), globally, around 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.
  • Awareness about the benefits of a plant-based diet
  • Rise in the number of flexitarian and vegan population
  • Growing investments, and favorable government policies and initiatives.

Some of the industry investments in recent years include:

  • In 2018, the German Government invested USD 780,000 toward the research for texturizing plant-based meats to feel more like meat. This investment was made to promote the consumption of plant-derived products.
  • In April 2017, Danone made a strategic acquisition of WhiteWave Foods (US), a player offering dairy alternative products, including plant-based milk and snack bars. This acquisition was made to meet the growing trend of sustainable eating and promote consumption of its plant-based beverages.
  • In August 2019, Danone North America expanded the current capacity of its facility in DuBois, PA, US. This expansion was aimed at increasing the production of its plant-based products, including Silk, So Delicious, and Vega branded products to meet the growing consumer demand.
  • In 2017, Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio invested in Beyond Meat (US), a company that launched the first plant-based burger in the market.

Furthermore, industrialists such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, and Jack Ma are some of the investors who showed confidence and came forward to invest in Motif Ingredients (US) that engineers plant-based ingredients to offer similar nutrition than the animal-based products offer.

New Launches to Support the Growing Trend for Plant-based Food:

  • Burger King (US) is launching its first plant-based product – Impossible Whopper – in its US stores, from Aug. 8, 2019.
  • Earlier in 2019, Chobani, L.L.C. (US) shifted its focus from dairy to non-dairy products and launched its coconut-based yogurts, including ingredients such as tapioca flour and quillaja extracts.
  • In February 2019, CoYo (Australia) launched coconut-based kefir drinks loaded with live probiotic kefir cultures fermented with Sri Lankan coconut milk; these included lactobacillus plantarum and bifidobacterium BB12.



e – Estimated; p – Projected
Source: Related Research Publications, Government Publications, Company Press Releases, Company Annual Reports, Company Websites, Company Publications, and MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis


Consumers are showing a positive outlook toward plant-based products and are demanding highly nutritious, low-fat, and low-sugar products. Vegan and flexitarian diets are the major factors driving the demand for plant-based food & beverages. Plant-based dairy beverages are the most trending option amongst consumers who are willingly replacing milk & milk products with plant-based alternatives. Due to the rising trend, some international café chains have also started offering plant-based milk coffees. Apart from milk, other plant-based products such as yogurts, kefirs, and cheese are also trending in many developed countries. Consumers are trying and experimenting with products and are demanding protein-rich and flavorsome products derived from natural sources. Also, due to the rising clean label trends, consumers are also looking for label information, preferably natural claims, while making their purchases, which further accelerates the demand for plant-based products. These trends, coupled with government initiatives, new product launches, investments, and expansions in the market, are expected to support the plant-based food & beverage manufacturers and would create a sustainable environment and future ahead.

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