Plant-based chicken alternatives small but poised to grow

Plant-based meat alternatives have grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but not enough to offset the declines in animal products.

Alfred's FoodTech
Alfred's FoodTech

Plant-based meat alternatives have grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but not enough to offset the declines in animal products, according to the webinar, “2022 Outlook of Plant-Based and Next Gen Protein,” presented by The Food Institute on January 18, 2022.

Plant-based chicken alternatives make up about 8% of the market, according to speaker Darren Seifer, executive director and industry analyst at NPD Group.

“I think that one is poised to grow a little bit, mostly because it’s just starting to hit the market,” he said. “If some of these alternatives to chicken can start capturing even just a sliver of what’s out there right now from the traditional market, perhaps the alternative chickens might rival alternative beefs now.”

Seifer added that some of the growth in plant-based meats during the pandemic could be attributed to supply chain shortages and the ability to fill a gap where some animal products may not have been readily available.

“I think with the plant-based movement, it has taught consumers that you don’t necessarily have to consume meat in order to meet your protein needs,” he said.

But, Seifer said, by far the top reason consumers choose a meat or dairy alternative is for health and wellness reasons.

However, he added, “this isn’t driving us to become vegans or vegetarians by any stretch of the imagination. … That’s looking at everyone who uses a plant-based alternative, and about 90% of them do not consider themselves vegan or vegetarian.”

According to speaker Nik Modi, managing director of RBC Capital Markets, the top reasons cited by consumers who do not buy plant-based meat and dairy alternatives is cost, taste and that they prefer “the real thing.”

“People will come into the category for a lot of different reasons. But in order for them to stick around and repeat, it has to be about the taste, the function and the format.”

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