When you think about a summer cookout, the first image that comes to mind is likely juicy hamburgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill.
That’s because for a long time, barbecues have revolved around traditional, animal-derived meats, with only the occasional black bean patty or Portobello burger in the mix. Now, though, consumers are looking for more alternatives to beef and poultry amid a drive toward environmental sustainability and health concerns.
That means this summer, you’ll likely see a new addition to your backyard spread: plant-based burgers.
More than your average veggie patty
These burgers, from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are more than your average veggie patties. They aim to mimic the look, taste and feel of beef without the use of animal products. Using ingredients like soy, pea protein, and beets (to give it that characteristic pink color), these companies have gained attention from vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Meat substitutes recorded $19.5 billion in global sales in 2018, according to Euromonitor International. Nearly 1 in 4 global consumers are trying to cut down on their meat intake, while nearly 42 percent think climate change will increasingly impact their life through 2024. However, consultant David Hedin notes the meat industry is still expected to grow at a faster rate by 2023, as pricing and availability of meat substitutes are two key factors that currently hold back worldwide penetration.
Above and beyond
Beyond Meat, which recently filed for an IPO, was adamant when it launched that it needed to gain retail space in the meat case, rather than with other substitutes. It notes being in that section of the grocery store “helped drive greater brand awareness with end consumers.”
It equates its growth trajectory to the non-dairy sector, which makes up about 13 percent of the dairy milk category. Beyond Meat predicts plant-based meat will grow to that same market share, “which over time would represent a category size of $35 billion in the United States alone.”
Other players are constantly entering the market as well. Tyson plans to start selling a meat substitute this summer, while Lightlife Foods recently launched a plant-based burger and ground meat in the United States and Canada, with more products planned.
While it will likely be years before plant-based burgers reach the popularity of their meat-based counterparts, don’t be surprised if a meatless patty joins the grill at your next cookout.
Jennette Rowan, Marketing Director, The Food Institute, [email protected]