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Nestlé, the world’s largest food maker, sees plant-based foods as a leading trend in overall industry growth! The food giant recently noted at an investor summit in London that consumer groups flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan are all on the rise and they want to bring more plant-based options to the masses. Alongside the trend of plant-based, Nestlé also noted five more trends: natural is king, organic, free from, reduced sugar, and high in protein.

And Nestlé is right, the plant-based food sector is booming and around  87 percent of Americans consume plant-based proteins and nearly two-thirds do so once a week or more often.  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. This move away from meat is largely due to consumers’ rising concerns about animal welfare, personal health, and importantly, sustainability. What’s more, Millennials are transforming the American consumer marketplace by demanding fresh, healthy, and plant-based options.

Nestlé has already introduced items such as Coffeemate made with almond milk, as well as dairy-free ice cream. Not to mention, the food giant recently acquired Sweet Earth Natural Foods, a Californian-based company known for vegan meals and snacks made from plant-based proteins.

Some may be hesitant to embrace these huge companies getting involved in the plant-based sector (and Nestlé may not have the best track record when it comes to sustainability, but we are reaching a time where the question of how we are going to feed a growing population that is set to reach nine billion by 2050 cannot be ignored.

Demand for protein in the developed and developing world is at an all-time high, with the average person in the U.S. consuming 103 grams per day, around double the actual recommended amount. The animal agriculture system already covers over 45 percent of the world’s land mass, uses a majority of finite freshwater water resources, and is responsible for rampant air and water pollution – not to mention is the largest singular source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Even with all the resources that this industry uses, nearly one billion people still go hungry.

The fact is, we need big companies like Nestlé to get involved in shifting our broken food system away from industrial animal agriculture and towards a more sustainable one centered around plant-based proteins instead.

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.

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