Consumer interest in plant-based meat is rapidly growing, and online shoppers are turning their attention to vegan proteins across all categories. Amazon recorded that shoppers searched for plant-based meat an astounding 44,000 times during the month of June. The data comes from the metadata platform Label Insight, which conducted the research that found this spike in plant-based interest. The data showed that consumers have become interested in the accessibility of plant-based meats, coinciding with the rapid rise of plant-based sales worldwide.

The information showed that Amazon shoppers searched terms including ‘vegan burgers,’ vegan chicken,’ ‘vegan meat,’ and ‘vegan fish.’ The search terms display the growing interest in every plant-based sector and revealing how the vegan market is experiencing widespread growth. The published data also shows that the number of searches for bean burgers also jumped 45 percent.

Earlier this year, the Plant-Based Foods Association [PBFA] and The Good Food Institute [GFI] released a report that discovered that plant-based retail sales grew 27 percent in 2020. The changing consumer behavior has led the US plant-based market to new levels, exceeding $7 billion.

“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift, as an ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that taste good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet,” PBFA Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett said in a statement on the 2020 market performance. “As this industry surpasses the $7 billion threshold, 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.”

The report attributes a significant level of growth for the plant-based market to the increased focus on online sales. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers become increasingly interested in plant-based foods and nutrition. Online retailers like Amazon helped allow consumers to reach and find plant-based foods during the pandemic lockdown. With vegan food and proteins becoming more accessible nationwide, the surge can be traced back to the overall market shift as well as the general understanding relationship between diet and health.

The report from the GFI and PBFA explored what products consumers decided to buy during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout 2020. In 2020, 18 percent of US households bought plant-based meat, surging 14 percent as compared to 2019. The report also found that beyond plant-based proteins, 39 percent of US households now have plant-based milk at home.

“2020 was a breakout year for plant-based foods across the store. The incredible growth we saw in plant-based foods overall, particularly plant-based meat, surpassed our expectations and is a clear sign of where consumer appetites are heading,” GFI Research Analyst Kyle Gaan observed. “Almost 40 perfect of households now have plant-based milk in their fridge, and at this rate, it won’t be long until we see just as many households purchasing plant-based meat.”

Another report from P&S Intelligence discovered that the plant-based meat market alone grew to over $1 billion in 2020. The report specifically tracks the amount of plant-based meat and protein consumers bought over the course of last year, revealing how popular meat alternatives have become since the onset of the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns over the consumption of meat products and hence, the adoption of plant-based proteins is expected to grow, thereby propelling the meat substitutes industry,” the report reads. “Furthermore, the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain of meat-based products, which has led to the reduced availability of fresh meat. This has shifted the attention of customers towards meat substitutes, which is why the sale of these products is surging.”

Plant-based interest is expected to continue growing for years to come at an accelerated rate. The Amazon report supports Credit Suisse’s report entitled “The Global Food System: Identifying Sustainable Solutions” released earlier this year. The report claims that the vegan food market will grow 100-fold by 2050, reaching $1.4 trillion. The growth is also attributed to the increasing presence of plant-based foods on online retailers, alongside increasing awareness regarding nutrition and sustainability.

“A change toward a plant-based diet appears inevitable, in our view, if the global food system is to become more sustainable,” Managing Director of Credit Suisse in the Securities Research Division Eugene Klerk states.

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