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Meat-eaters, not vegans, are driving the plant-based meat boom, according to industry experts

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One-third of Americans are actively reducing their intake of meat and dairy by participating in Meatless Mondays, and opting for an occasional veggie burger or plant-based milk.

EMILY MONACO: The plant-based revolution is well underway in the US. American sales of plant-based foods grew 11% from April 2018 to April 2019, while the total US retail-food market grew just 2%. In 2019, the market hit $5 billion, and a report from Meticulous Research in July predicted it could be worth $74.2 billion by 2027.

Just 5% of Americans self-identify as vegetarian and less than 3% consider themselves vegan — but many others are embarking on “flexitarian” diets that minimize meat and dairy. The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) says one-third of Americans are “actively reducing” their intake of meat and dairy by participating in “Meatless Mondays,” opting for an occasional veggie burger or stocking their fridges with plant milks alongside dairy.

It is this new group, not vegans or vegetarians, that is driving the explosion of the market and inspiring companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to revolutionize plant-based meat substitutes, experts told Business Insider.

Those less committed to ditching meat aren’t as keen on health food like bean burgers or tofu, which have traditionally dominated the space — instead, the market has embraced items like the Impossible Burger, which emulates the texture and flavor of beef, thanks to a genetically modified heme protein made from soy. A far cry from the bean burger of the past, Impossible’s original claim to fame was its plant-based burger that “bled”…

“There’s all kinds of different consumers that are driving this trend,” Michael Robbins, a PBFA spokesperson, said. But he said flexitarians were “the biggest part, for sure, of market growth.” For some flexitarians, their diet is about ethics. For others, it’s health, particularly given the pandemic, which Robbins said “has accelerated what was already a period of strong growth”…

“For many years, consumers have told pollsters that they intend to eat less meat,” Matt Ball of the Good Food Institute, an American nonprofit that promotes plant alternatives, said. “Yet until the past year, per-capita meat consumption went up and up and up, both in the United States and in the world. “Now that plant-based meat is starting to give people what they want in terms of taste and familiarity, we see plant-based-meat sales increasing sharply.”  SOURCE…

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