Global Vegan Food Market to Surpass $31 Billion By 2026
Consumer demand is driving the global vegan food market.

According to a new report, the global vegan food market could reach $31.4 billion by 2026.

The report—titled Vegan Food Market by Product Type and Distribution Channel: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019-2026—is authored by Allied Analytics LLP and published by Research and Markets.

According to the report, the global vegan food market was valued at $14.2 billion in 2018. In order to reach $31.4 billion, the market will need to register a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent between 2019 and 2026.

Consumer demand for vegan food has increased drastically in recent years and experts predict that it will continue to grow. Demand for vegan meat, in particular, is popular with a variety of consumers—regardless of diet.

Experts predict that the global vegan meat market alone could be worth $6.5 billion by the year 2026. Analysts at UBS recently predicted that the U.S. vegan meat and protein market could reach $85 billion by the year 2030.

Many consumers see vegan food as a healthy alternative to animal products.

Personal and Planetary Health

Many consumers see vegan food as a healthy, sustainable, and ethical alternative to animal products.

A growing body of research shows that red meat can increase the risk of chronic health conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Even in small amounts, processed meat also poses a health risk. A study from Cancer Research UK last year revealed that eating three rashers of bacon a day could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20 percent.

“Increase in incidence of such health disorders, rise in number of health-conscious consumers, increase in disposable income of target customers have been some of the key factors driving the trend of veganism,” says the report.

Meat also has a negative impact on the planet. Animal agriculture is a leading contributor to the ongoing climate crisis. Beef production is particularly harmful and requires 160 times more land than plant-based staples such as wheat and potatoes. Beef also produces 11 times more greenhouse gases than these types of crops.

“The adoption of vegetarian foods is on a consistent increase across the world,” continues the report. “According to recent studies, 30% of Americans are not only leaving meat off their plates but are also seeking out plant-based meat alternatives.”

Hong Kong’s Right Treat makes vegan dumplings. | Omnipork

Millennials and Meat

Millennials are among the leading consumers of vegan and plant-based foods worldwide. According to the recent Allied Analytics LLP report, Millennials are often “health-conscious, broad-minded, and actively involved in various physical activities.”

A 2018 report by Ernst & Young indicates that 30 percent of young Swedes are eating more plant-based food to reduce their environmental footprint. In Denmark, eight percent of Millennials now identify as flexitarian. And in the UK, 66 percent of British Millennials and Generation Z say rates of veganism will continue to rise.

Recent data found Asia—where Millennials make up a large demographic—to be the fastest-growing new market for vegan food. The vegan market in China specifically is predicted to rise by 17 percent between 2015 and 2020.

Currently, China is the world’s largest market for beef, poultry, and pork. But increasingly health-conscious consumers are continuing to drive interest in vegan alternatives. Walmart China now offers Omnipork, a vegan alternative to traditional pork products. Created by Hong Kong’s Right Treat, Omnipork is even available at Taco Bell.

“If you want to mobilize and empower people to eat less meat, then you need to give them the tools,” said Omnipork creator and Right Treat founder David Yeung. The company uses shiitake mushrooms and pea protein to create its signature Omnipork, which is high in protein, low in cholesterol and low in fat. 

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Flexitarianism is driving demand for vegan products.

Demand For Vegan Products

According to UBS, the current success of the vegan food market—and specifically its popularity with meat-eaters—is directly related to stocking vegan and animal products side by side. First used by nondairy drinks in the milk aisle, and then adopted by vegan meat companies such as Beyond Meat.

Nielsen data indicates that 98 percent of those who regularly buy meat-alternatives also regularly buy animal products. These curious meat-eaters and “flexitarians” are the primary drivers of the growing vegan food market.

Last year, FoodNavigator reported that around 50 percent of the UK population will be flexitarian by 2025. It also predicted that 25 percent will be either fully vegan or vegetarian.

Also in 2019, a separate study noted that 80 percent of American consumers want to swap meat with vegan alternatives. And research from data analytics company Gallup indicated that around 25 percent of American consumers are eating less meat in general.

California-based food tech brand JUST is also catering to a growing plant-based consumer base. The brand launched its groundbreaking vegan egg to retail in 2018 and reported selling 2 million bottles in the first four months alone. In some locations, JUST Egg even outsold traditional liquid chicken eggs.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy and sustainable sources of protein,” said JUST CEO Josh Tetrick. “Plant-based eggs, dairy, and meat, and plant-based offerings have never been more delicious and accessible in grocery stores and restaurants.”

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As the popularity of vegan food increases, mainstream brands are rushing to meet demand. | KFC

Vegan Food is Big Business

In the UK, approximately 20 million Brits are drastically reducing their meat consumption. In the U.S., nearly 25 percent of Americans are eating less meat than ever before. JUST Egg is not alone in catering to this growing plant-based demographic.

As consumer demand for animal products falls—and demand for vegan food increases—many mainstream food companies are launching plant-based products. These include Tyson, Smithfield, and JBS. Swiss multinational Nestlé is investing in both existing plant-based companies and producing its own plant-based products as Garden Gourmet and Sweet Earth.

Fast-food chains are exploring new plant-based options too. After successful trials of its vegan chicken in limited locations, KFC launched the Zero Chicken Burger across the UK earlier this year. In the U.S., KFC and Beyond Meat are trialing vegan fried chicken at more than 70 locations. In Rotterdam, one KFC branch is going 100 percent vegan for an entire week.

British bakery chain Greggs had a successful 2019, thanks in part to the launch of its vegan sausage roll last January. The company even paid £7 million in bonuses to its employees as a thank you. The “huge popularity” of the vegan sausage roll, in addition to steady demand for its traditional products, helped to increase sales by 13.5 percent.

Greggs then celebrated the start of 2020 with the launch of a new vegan product. The popular Vegan Steak Bake was so in-demand that Greggs struggled to keep up with sales. The chain plans to launch vegan versions of all its top-selling lines, and CEO Roger Whiteside is even trying out a plant-based diet himself.