plant-based food manufacturing

The rise of plant-based food manufacturing

Plant-based is all the rage right now. From plant-based ice cream, dips and snacks, to meat, chicken, pet food and even packaging materials, the entire food and beverage industry is hopping on the plant-based food manufacturing train.

Plant-based food manufacturing growth

Plant-based foods are gaining steam:

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  • What was once dubbed a fad has become a $4.5 billion market, growing at a rate of five times total food sales, according to Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), San Francisco.
  • Research produced by Global Market Insights, Inc., Shelbyville, Del., outlines how the plant-based ingredients category will cross the $13 trillion mark by 2025.
  • A Euromonitor projection shows worldwide sales of meat substitutes will grow 22% by 2023, reaching the $22.9 billion mark.
  • And, a study conducted by Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands, reveals plant-based nutrition is showing no signs of slowing down.
MycoTechnology mushroom fermenters MycoTechnology mushroom fermenters

MycoTechnology takes on the challenges faced by the plant-based protein industry using mushroom fermentation.

Plant-based: the buzzword vs. the lifestyle

All stats aside, how can the industry decipher between the buzzword and the way of life?

Consumer demand

Consumers love to latch on to buzzwords and run with them. Think back to the beginning of the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers and even gluten-free.

But, plant-based isn’t just for vegans anymore. That’s because “plant-based rebranded vegan eating for the mainstream,” making it a lifestyle that vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike can maintain, regardless of their health status.

According to HealthFocus data, 17% of U.S. consumers aged 15-70 claim to eat a predominately plant-based diet, while 60% report to be cutting back on meat-based products. Of those reducing their intake of animal-based proteins, 55% say the change is permanent, and 22% hope that it is.

SPINS data shows that grocery sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 31% in the past two years.

Industry demand

Plant-based also continues to invade the foodservice industry, with processors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat partnering with nationwide fast food chains such as Burger King, White Castle and KFC to add their plant-based burgers to the menu.

A PCMA Benchmark report shows that in 2020, more and more restaurants “will have a dedicated menu for plant-based food items.”

What’s more is, case shipments of plant-based protein from broadline foodservice distributors to foodservice operators increased by 20% in 2018 compared to 2017, with all census regions showing double-digit growth, reports The NPD Group, Chicago.

This means that while plant-based may be a hot buzzword online, in store and in consumers’ homes, it’s becoming more of a way of life.

The eco-friendly aspect of plant-based food manufacturing

A report from Nielsen, Chicago, shows that 81% of global consumers believe it is important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.

This interest in the environment is another reason why plant-based diets are gaining popularity. It’s not just good for consumers’ health; it’s also good for the planet’s health, according to this case study presented by UCLA Sustainability, Los Angeles.

In fact, research by the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, Ann Arbor, Mich., shows that a plant-based burger generates 90% less greenhouse gases, 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land than a quarter pound of American beef.

Additionally, Good Food Institute (GFI), Washington, D.C., produced a new plant-based meat fact sheet that standardizes and compares the available life-cycle assessments for plant-based meat products, analyzing greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use and aquatic nutrient pollution.

Investment in plant-based food manufacturing

Even venture capitalists and other investors are hopping on the plant-based food manufacturing train, as plant-based food companies have raised more than $16 billion in the last decade, with record gains of $13 billion in 2017 and 2018 alone, according to GFI’s State of the Industry report.

NCFIL plant-based food manufacturing innovation lab NCFIL plant-based food manufacturing innovation lab

The NC Food Innovation Lab will accelerate plant-based food research, ideation, development and commercialization.

Engineering for plant-based food manufacturing

So, what does this growth mean for the design-build industry?

The more product innovation, the more need for new and/or expanding plant-based food manufacturing facilities.

In fact, an annual capital spending survey forecasts a 16.6% boost in new design-build projects, as food and beverage producers pump up the size of their buildings to accommodate for more lines and additional SKUs.

And, over the last 12 months, SalesLeads, Inc., Jacksonville Beach, Fla., tracked 91 expansion and new construction projects at or involving plant-based food manufacturers.

That’s why design-build firms like CRB are full steam ahead with projects in the plant-based market.

For instance, CRB completed an 80,000-square-foot headquarters and fermentation processing plant for MycoTechnology, Inc., Aurora, Colo., to further develop its ClearTaste and PureTaste plant-based protein.

CRB also designed and built the NC Food Innovation Lab, a Kannapolis, N.C.-based cGMP pilot plant that accelerates plant-based food research, ideation, development and commercialization.

The editors of Well + Good magazine say there’s never been a better time to go plant-based than now.

Forbes even reported plant-based as being one of the Top 10 trends in 2019, and Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, kept it on its Top 10 trends list for 2020.

The plant-based food manufacturing train is moving full speed ahead, with no end in sight. Now is the time to hop on and enjoy the ride. Choose a partner that can help you scale your process and design a facility to meet your future needs.

Considering hopping on the plant-based train? Let’s talk about how you can quickly and efficiently move into the plant-based market!

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