An increase in the demand for healthy and environmentally friendly products, increasing awareness regarding health issues associated with animal meat consumption, an expanding base of suppliers for this industry and greater inclination towards vegetarianism are the major factors propelling the growth of the plant-based meat market in India and other countries.
Plant-based meat products are products that are made to mimic the properties of animal meat but are comparatively healthier and environmentally friendly. These are produced to resemble the look, smell, and taste of animal meat. However, producing them is difficult owing to the molecular complexity of animal meat. These products play a crucial role in curbing the problem of obesity prevalence in urban regions.
Recent years have seen a change in the eating habits brought about by the increase in disposable income, raised standard of living and inclination towards fast-foods, and is a major reason for deterioration in the health of the overall population. It is also a reason for the increased consumption of animal meat, which consists of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, cholesterol, and assorted proteins. Excess consumption of animal meat makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, which can result in overweight or obesity.
According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 300,000 deaths occur every year due to overweight and obesity. Obesity can lead to various health issues like increased risk of heart disease and diabetes; increase in the death risk, increased risk of cancer and food-borne illness. Additionally, excess consumption of meat also causes an imbalance in the food ecosystem because it entails killing a higher number of animals for human consumption.
According to a report, 56 billion land animals are killed every year for meeting the demand for meat while above 9 billion animals are slaughtered every year in the United States alone. The United States Department of Agriculture data reveals that around 9.59 billion land animals were slaughtered for human consumption in the year 2018. Moreover, a detailed study by Counting Animals website that collects, generates, analyzes, organizes, presents and interprets quantitative information related to the animal advocacy movement, 3.8 billion finned fish and 43.1 billion shellfish were slaughtered to support the United States food supply in 2013.
Can it be a viable and credible alternative?
In European and North American countries, the consumption of meat is much higher than the developing regions like India, China, and Brazil. In India, due to religious reasons, 31% of the total population is vegetarian while in Europe only 10% are considered to be vegetarian. An increase in the demand for healthy and environmentally friendly products, increasing awareness regarding health issues associated with animal meat consumption, an expanding base of suppliers for this industry and greater inclination towards vegetarianism are the major factors propelling the growth of the plant-based meat market in India and other countries.
However, plant-based meat products are grey in colour, which look unattractive and they come extremely processed along with additives as compared to animal meat. These factors are expected to hamper the growth of this industry during the forecast period (2018-2026), during which the size of the plant-based meat market worldwide is expected to reach USD 30.92 Bn by the year 2026 from USD 10.10 Bn in 2018.
According to a 2018 report published by Food Revolution Organization, the number of vegetarians in the United States increased by 600% in the preceding three years. This is expected to drive the demand for the plant-based meat industry. An increase in the sedentary work, a relaxed lifestyle and increased automation has led to a substantial decrease in the physical movement of the people, thus aggregating the process of gaining weight.
At the same time, economic development, a rise in the standard of living of the population and an increasing proportion of the young population has led to an increase in the inclination towards fast-food, eventually adding to the obesity among the population. However, protein formed from plants cannot be readily absorbed by the body as compared to animal-based protein. Hence, the consumption of such a diet must be increased to compensate for the low absorption of proteins.
Nestle launched a new burger called ‘Incredible Burger’ which was sold in McDonald’s outlets in Germany in the year 2017. The burger was launched after research and development was done for about three years to create it.
In May 2019, Plant-based News published an article that suggests a growing awareness about the consequences of consumption of meat and related health issues. It urged the population to adopt other protein source alternatives, especially in the Asia-Pacific countries. Additionally, environmental hazards and imbalance in the ecosystem caused due to increased slaughter for human consumption are further expected to drive the industry for plant-based meat.
However, adopting a new diet and changing eating habits among the population is a difficult task as people are not ready to give up on their meat consumption. These factors are expected to act as constraints in the growth of plant-based meat industry.
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The author is a professional content writer and writes on topics related to food and beverages, healthcare, technology, banking, and a wide range of other industry verticals.