The time has pretty much never been better to get into the plant-based food business. The plant-based meat market is set to reach $5.2 billion by 2020 and could make up one-third of the market by 2050. U.S. household penetration of dairy-free beverages has doubled in five years to more than 30 percent, with almond milk now accounting for almost 70 percent of sales and new nut-based milks such as cashew gaining momentum.The almond milk market alone has grown by 250 percent and become a $894.6 million industry in the past five years. Dairy-free milk sales represent a $2 billion category and growth is expected to continue outpacing dairy milk sales at least through 2018.
This massive spike in demand for meat and dairy-free products is largely being driven by consumers who are waking up the impact that our current food system is having on the planet, animals, and perhaps most importantly, their own health. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen countless studies come out about the hormone and antibiotic content in dairy products and recoiled in horror watching undercover investigations in factory farms – and when you add the rising understanding that industrial animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the ENTIRE transportation sector … the fact that 30 percent of Americans are leaving meat off their plates more frequently really doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
With consumer demand shifting towards more healthy, plant-based products many companies are seizing this opportunity and creating innovative plant-based proteins and dairy-free milks, cheeses, and ice cream that are effectively changing the face of the food sector as we know it.
Understandably, there are a lot of brand new companies jumping on the plant-based wagon, but T.K. Pillan, co-founder of Veggie Grill, the largest all vegan restaurant chain in the United States, saw this trend long before others did. Thanks to its overwhelming popularity on the West Coast, Veggie Grill secured $22 million in investment to expand across the country and will (hopefully) be making it’s way to the East Coast soon.
In a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, T.K. shares the inspiring back-story of how he co-founded Veggie Grill despite having never worked in the food space and provides key tips on what it takes to be a plant-centric food entrepreneur. In addition to helping start this paramount plant-centric fast, casual chain, T.K. is now also an investor and co-founded Powerplant Ventures, a venture fund that supports visionary entrepreneurs who are leveraging the power of plants to deliver better nutrition in more sustainable and ethical ways.
If you are an entrepreneur or aspiring to break into the sustainable, plant-based food industry, or just love an inspiring success story, this episode is a must-listen.
You can listen to the full episode on the following platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher
If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food.
Image source: Veggie Grill