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The future of food is plant-based! Thanks to growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly and meat- and dairy-free options, we have seen an explosion of plant-based food on the market. According to some estimates, 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. What’s more, plant-based milk is set to reach $16.3 billion in 2018. And now we have more exciting news to share!

According to a new Neilson report commissioned by Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute, plant-based foods have grown 8.1 percent since last year! 

Nielsen analyzed data from several food categories over a 52-week period. The data represents foods that replace animal products, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy. According to their findings, plant-based dairy alternatives are the fastest-growing category, with a whopping 20 percent growth and $700 million in sales over the last year. Plant-based milk is up 3.1 percent since last year and cow’s milk sales are down roughly 5 percent.

“There is a revolution going on in the plant-based meat space,” said Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of The Good Food Institute. “Right now, the sector is small, but growing, and we are working hard to create a viable market sector. It is especially impressive to see that all the plant-based companies are working cooperatively because a rising tide will lift all boats.”

While it has long been the case that people are leaving meat and dairy off their plates more frequently, seeing the incredible rise in plant-based foods as a market sector is a clear indication that consumer habits are changing for the better. As we approach a population of 9.8 billion by 2050, we are being forced to answer the question of how we’re going to feed the world without completely exhausting all our natural resources. The answer to this question is falling on the shoulders of companies that are developing more sustainable plant-based products that are not only better for animals, but much better for our own health.

Nielsen’s report is an indication that a food industry dominated by plant-based proteins and alternatives is not as far off as many would think. Demand for plant-based product development has spiked by close to 140 percent, with the plant-based food sector overall valued at $5 billion. With food giant Nestlé recently buying Sweet Earth Natural Foods, as well as Tyson Foods, Inc., the world’s largest meat producer, having a five percent ownership stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat, it’s clear plant-based foods are here to stay.

To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.

Lead image source: Charlie Marchant/Flickr

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