Plant power. With health concerns top of mind, consumers are digging into plant-based foods.

By Rebecca Harris, Canadian Grocer, December 2017

Move over, meat: interest in plant-based foods is growing. According to Nielsen, 43% of Canadian consumers are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. In addition, 6% and 2% of Canadian consumers are vegetarian or vegan, respectively. And that’s not all—nearly half of consumers (46%) agree that plant-based proteins are associated with positive health effects.

“All this interest and diet preferences have resulted in increased consumption of plant proteins, which is reflected in the dollar growth of categories like meat alternatives (15%), tofu (12%), dry beans (8%) and nuts and seeds (3%),” notes Isabel Morales, consumer insights manager at Nielsen Canada.

While animal protein—including meat, seafood, dairy and eggs—still dominates the protein category with 93% volume and $22.3 billion in sales, plant-based protein (meat and dairy alternatives, legumes, grains and nuts/seeds) is driving growth, with sales up 3% to $1.6 billion, according to Nielsen MarketTrack (for the 52 weeks ending April 29, 2017).

“Even though we’ve viewed protein from animals as a primary source for centuries, consumers are now learning plant protein is not hard to come by and can be found in many different sources, including grains, pulses, and nuts and seeds,” says Morales.

A number of factors are driving consumer demand for plant-based foods, including health, allergies or intolerances (in the case of dairy foods), and concern for animal welfare. “Tied into that is concern for the environment,” says Sara Harrel, director of marketing and culinary at Global Gardens Group.

With the category growing exponentially, Harrel believes the rise of plantbased foods is a long-term trend, not a fad. “The opportunity in plant-based foods is like a gold rush. And as companies like ours come out with products that are great-tasting, easy alternatives, it makes it very simple for people to incorporate them into their daily lives.”

Global Gardens Group manufactures a line of non-dairy beverages called Veggemo, made with pea protein, potato and cassava. Potato and cassava help with the creaminess, texture and whiteness of the product, says Harrel, while yellow peas provide protein and nutrition. Veggemo comes in three flavours: original, unsweetened and vanilla, and is Non-GMO Project Verified, cholesterolfree, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free.

“A few things set us apart, but No. 1 is the taste,” says Harrel. “We put an extensive amount of time and resources into researching and developing a taste that consumers would like.”

Read the full article online in the December 2017 issue of Canadian Grocer.