During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers bought more plant-based proteins than ever, and this trend has continued even as the virus is on the retreat, according to new market research just released. For the past 14 months, consumer shopping habits drastically shifted as it became easier to shop for food online, and more people were seeking to strengthen immunity and improve nutrition, according to the International Food Information Council's latest survey:  2021 Food & Health Survey detailing how consumers' enthusiasm for plant-based proteins is still going strong.

Greenwald Research also conducted a consumer panel that found a steadily growing consumer trend towards plant-based foods. This surging interest in plant-based foods and protein alternatives shifts how companies globally cater to their consumers, making the last year significant for the development of plant-based substitutes.

The study centered around consumer interests regarding positive and nutritious food components. The survey conducted by Greenwald Research questioned 1,014 Americans between the ages of 18 to 80 through Dyanata’s consumer panel to find how people’s perspectives on foods changed over the last year. 24 percent of the participants claimed that they were eating more plant-based protein. Consumers responded that they felt encouraged to buy more plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, 19 percent sought out plant-based meat and 18 percent took to plant-based dairy alternatives.

“After more than a year of tremendous upheaval caused by a historic pandemic, Americans are craving stability and a return to normalcy when it comes to their food decisions,” Chief Executive Officer of IFIC said. “The 2021 Food & Healthy Survey reflect those desires, but it also provides evidence of trends from during and before the pandemic that is proving to be more durable.”

The public interest in immunity and its relation to food and nutrition also spiked. The survey recorded that 66 percent of people said they were interested in immunity-boosting foods. The movement towards plant-based is supplemented by the rising number of plant-based protein alternatives that hit the market. The popularity of plant-based chicken, beef, and seafood continues to rise, making it easier for consumers to try to lower their meat intake.

The Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute released a report that found that the US plant-based market reached $7 billion, growing 27 percent over 2020. The report also found that the value of the plant-based meat industry alone hit $1.4 billion in 2020, surging 45 percent from 2019. The consumer trends only continue to accelerate, showing that the changing American consumer is heading toward a plant-based food market.

“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift as an ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet,” PBFA Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett. “As this industry surpasses the $7 billion thresholds, PBFA is excited to continue our work to help build a sustainable infrastructure, including domestic ingredients sourcing, for this growing demand to expand access to plant-based foods.”

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