The Covid-19 pandemic has made the average consumer hyper-aware of the need for sustainability in the food and drink industry and supply chains. The impact of the virus, and the resilience and agility of industry in responding has been celebrated. However, with consumers focusing on how their personal diet affects their nutrition and impacts the world around them will this moment in history lead to an even bigger intake of plant-based meat alternatives?
Plant-based protein producer THIS, winner of the 2019 Food Matters Live Award for Best New Food Product of the Year, has seen revenues double for its products. The company had managed to maintain stock levels despite the huge surge. Co-founder Andy Shovel commented, “As soon as news of the virus spreading in Italy broke, we began stockpiling product in the UK, just in case. This has now paid off, and we have ample supply to fall back on, should there be any delays in the supply-chain.”
US reports a big plant-based sales jump
In the US sales for plant-based food has seen similar demand. US retail sales of fresh plant-based meats grew 279.8% in the week ending March 14. Beating a 206.4% jump the week before, according to Nielsen data.
Sales of oat milk grew 476.7% in the week ending March 14 while dairy milk sales grew 32.4%. The shelf-stable nature of oat milk was indicated as a big draw as, consumers packed their pantries with foods that have a longer shelf life.
A look into the future
Will these short-term jumps in demand continue long-term? The link between animal agriculture and infectious illness that has been portrayed in the media may make an impact. “Bird flu, swine flu, and now COVID-19 demonstrate that keeping large numbers of animals in close contact with one another presents a tremendous risk for global health,” says Christie Lagally, founder and CEO of plant-based chicken maker Rebellyous Foods.
There is caution though. Sales of traditional meat products have seen an increase in sales during the pandemic too. With many plant-based products costing more than their meat counterparts it’s believed that this will be a factor.