Column Jos Hugense: Down-to-earthness
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Column Jos Hugense: Down-to-earthness

  • 12 September 2022
  • By: Jos Hugense CEO Meatless

In recent months, there has been some hesitation in the abundant stream of euphoric reports about growth and even greater growth in the market for vegetarian and vegan products. McDonalds withdrew its vegetarian burger from the range in America because of insufficient turnover. Livekindly decided to reconsider after having previously raised expectations sky-high. The Beyond Meat share dropped from USD 195 in October 2020 to USD 27 in August 2022. What is going on? 

The market is consolidating. That is quite normal after years of high growth. Any flattening or correction is certainly no reason to panic. The underlying consumer trend of shifting from animal to more plant-based food is as strong as ever, for a number of reasons: 

There is the demographic aspect. In countries like Canada and the Netherlands, we see up to five times as many vegetarians and vegans under the age of 35 as above that age. Time will therefore automatically cause a shift. 

The price of vegetarian products is still high; higher than a meatburger, higher than a piece of chicken, but the differences are getting smaller. Animal products are going to become more expensive because of rising raw material and energy prices; these have a higher impact on the production of animal products than on most plant products. Nevertheless, there is not (yet) any sign of general price competition with meat. However, this will have to occur if plant-based products are to become a serious mainstream player, particularly at a time of inflation and a tightening household budget for many families. 

Thirdly, there is the perception. Twenty years ago, vegetarianism was still in the alternative corner, now celebrities like Beyoncé and Formula 1 driver Hamilton propagate a plant-based diet. 'Veggie' is normal. Trendy even! More and more consumers realise that the production of animal products has consequences. The will to cut down on meat consumption is heard more and more often. You can't get that genie back in the bottle. 

With all this in mind, let us calmly continue to build a successfully growing market and not let ourselves be led by the delusion of the day, overstrained marketing or dazzling future prospects. Renowned analysts predict a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for plantbased of 13-16% up to and including 2028; not a bad growth rate at all. Those who think higher have either lost their calculators or are letting their thoughts run wild. 

Changing eating habits takes time. In the food industry, processes are slow; it took the Netherlands a quarter of a century before we even understood what a pizza was. The current change is inevitable; plants are increasingly becoming the direct basis of our food. The motto: stay down-to-earth. Because it is a gradual process. 

Jos Hugense
CEO Meatless

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2022