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  • Writer's pictureMohamed Soltan

5 Trends in the Vegan Food Production Industry for Savvy Investors

Rising demand for plant-based alternatives, environmental consciousness, and health concerns have powered remarkable growth in the vegan food production industry. It’s not only a very lucrative sector but also highly innovative. Incremental improvements are making vegan options more palatable and closer in taste and texture to animal proteins, including seafood.

Investors looking to take advantage of this booming industry must keep abreast of the latest trends. Read on to explore five trends shaping the vegan food production industry and their significance for investors looking to make informed decisions.

New Alternative Protein Sources

Initially, soy and wheat-based protein products dominated the vegan market. However, we are now witnessing an explosion of innovative alternatives. Pea protein, lentil protein, and other legume-based sources have gained traction due to their nutritional benefits, allergen-free nature, and sustainability. Additionally, emerging technologies are paving the way for lab-grown proteins. These include fermentation-derived dairy and cellular agriculture, with the latter ranging from lab-grown meat to plant molecular farming (PMF). PMF uses plants as recombinant protein production hosts to produce ingredients that have hitherto only existed in animal products. These technologies are creating exciting investment prospects for forward-thinking investors.

Plant-Based Convenience Foods

Convenience has become an essential factor in the modern food industry. Studies indicate convenience sits alongside taste and price as a consumer priority. Eighty-five percent of today’s consumers want food products that are easy to prepare and don't disrupt their everyday food reparation routines. As a result, the vegan food production sector is witnessing a surge in the development of plant-based convenience foods. Companies are focusing on creating ready-to-eat meals, pre-packaged snacks, and frozen options catering to time-poor consumers.

The packaging industry is rising to the challenge by producing plant-based containers and packaging for these products. The abundant availability of raw materials for manufacturing makes the whole production process significantly more sustainable. This convenience trend, therefore, presents opportunities for investors both up and downstream.

Cultivated Meat Revolutionizes the Industry

Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown or cell-based meat, has garnered significant attention and investment in recent years. According to the Good Food Institute, the sector attracted $1.4 billion in investments in 2021. UPSIDE Foods (previously Memphis Meats) took $400 million of this in its Series C funding. The company was the first to receive FDA approval for cultivated meat.

In growing meat directly from animal cells, this technology provides a sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional animal farming. The production of cultivated meat requires fewer resources, generates lower greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminates animal cruelty concerns. However, it will take some time to do it at scale and affordably.

Plant-Based Seafood

Given the unsustainable nature of traditional industrial fishing practices and fish farming, it was inevitable that plant-based seafood would eventually make its way onto the shelves of our supermarkets. Seaweed is a primary ingredient of most plant-based seafood, contributing to the taste authenticity. Other typical ingredients include soy, yeast, legumes, and vegetable oils.

Plant-based fish, shrimp, and other seafood alternatives are becoming increasingly popular due to their authentic taste and texture and similar nutritional profile. Additionally, with plant-based seafood, consumers don’t have to worry about contamination by mercury and microplastics. Even that “fishy smell” is eliminated.

While the sector is slightly behind cultured meat, it’s growing fast thanks to brands like Good Catch, Ocean Hugger Foods, and Sophie’s Kitchen.

Mainstream Adoption and Market Expansion

Perhaps the most promising trend for investors in the vegan food production industry is the mainstream adoption and market expansion of plant-based products. Major food corporations and fast-food chains have recognized the growing demand for vegan options and have started incorporating them into their menus. This increased visibility and acceptance have led to exponential growth in sales and market reach. Investing in established vegan food brands and supporting the expansion efforts of these companies can yield significant returns, as the demand for plant-based products shows no signs of slowing down.

The vegan food production industry is rapidly transforming, driven by shifting consumer preferences, environmental concerns, and technological advancements. Understanding the latest trends in this evolving industry is crucial for investors seeking lucrative opportunities. Alternative protein sources, plant-based convenience foods, cultivated meat, plant-based seafood, and the mainstream adoption of vegan products are the five key trends shaping the vegan food production industry today. By investing in these burgeoning sectors, investors can contribute to a sustainable future and benefit from the growing demand for ethical, environmentally friendly, and healthier food options.

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