Canadian meat processor, Maple Leaf Foods, recently acquired Lightlife Foods, a producer of plant-based products such as tempeh, vegan sausages, and burgers. Joining many other top meat companies like Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, and Pinnacle Foods, Maple Leaf Food’s move signals that if companies want to stay competitive, shifting towards more plant-based options is the way to go. The plant-based food sector is a booming business and eating plant-based has been described as the fastest growing lifestyle movement. This move away from meat is largely due to consumers’ rising concerns about animal welfare, personal health, and importantly, sustainability.
The good news is, Maple Leaf Foods has been stepping up their sustainability is taking a lead role in the expansion and diversification of protein alternatives. Taking on Lightlife is undoubtedly one of their efforts to these ends, and the plant-based company has not disappointed.
Just recently, Lightlife released deli slices that celebrate vegetables, showing that you hardly need meat to make a killer sandwich. Lightlife’s new Chickpea and Red Pepper and White Bean and Kale deli slices focus on vegetables, instead of boasting as a meat alternative. The packages proudly highlight the legumes and vegetables as the sources of protein for the slices and don’t use imitation meat flavoring the way other deli slices do.
Lightlife aims to showcase plant-based protein as a way to reclaim the word “meat” and celebrate vegetables. The new products will open up the deli category to new consumers who don’t want animal imitation meat.
Brad Lahrman director of Marketing for Lightlife told FoodNavigator that, “The deli meat category is growing about 12 percent annually and about 17 cents of every dollar spent within the category is spent on plant-based deli-meat.” According to a study conducted Lightlife, 87 percent of Americans consume plant-based proteins and nearly two-thirds do so once a week or more often. And the majority of Americans, 65 percent to be exact, believe that plant-based protein can be just as hearty and satisfying, if not more, as animal protein. That’s a far cry from the previous notion many held that a meal without meat is bland, boring, and sad.
This commitment to expanding protein to include plant-based options is undoubtedly a great move for the planet. The industrial animal agriculture system is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet and we need to start shifting away from animal proteins and towards plant-based alternatives, if we want to create a truly sustainable food system that will be able to support our growing population. With this in mind, seeing all of the new plant-based alternatives coming to the market to meet virtually every consumer’s needs and wants is extremely heartening.
Looks like the question of where you get your protein from if you eat plant-based foods, is quickly going out of date. Collectively, we spend around $600 million annually on meat alternatives, so there’s no denying that future of food is already here — and it’s plant-based.
All image source: Lightlife