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The Vegan Effect – how the growing use of vegan products is affecting supply

An overwhelming proportion of the press coverage of the plant-based food sector has focused on meat substitutes. But other sources of protein, including yoghurt and cheese substitutes, are growing faster than plant-based meat as an increasing number of consumers look for alternatives to dairy-based foods.

In particular, we are observing large increases in the use of plant-based milk (such as soya milk and almond milk) which has emerged as the single biggest plant-based food category. The recent flood of new products and increasing options are allowing consumers to try alternatives to dairy and meat.

Many within the sector are concerned that the huge increases in demand we have seen in recent times will create supply problems. Speaking at last month’s Global Meat News conference, VBites founder Heather Mills advised suppliers operating within the meat alternatives market to diversify their pool of ingredients and not rely just on pea and soy protein for fear that supplies will become scarce as demand grows, driving up price. “It’s better to work with at least 40-odd plants than just rely on pea protein or soy protein” Mills said.

It will be ironic in the extreme if soy demand soars as a result of veganism – driving up CO2 in the atmosphere from deforestation as a direct result of eating choices directed at CO2 reduction.

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