“We don’t want to be disrupted,” Justin Whitmore, executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods, said at a recent panel event. “We want to be part of the disruption.”
Tyson may be a global leader in meat production, but it’s it's also becoming a leading example of what it looks like when the meat industry embraces consumers' desires for more plant-based options.
The company has already invested in leading-edge startups that are making conventional animal agriculture obsolete (plant-based company Beyond Meat and clean meat company Memphis Meats).
Now, it's launching its own plant-protein brand, Green Street, to own a bigger piece of the escalating demand for plant-based alternatives to animal protein sources. Green Street is Tyson’s first foray into ready-to-eat, grab-and-go plant-based meals. The company’s willingness to take this entirely new approach is a sign of the profound shift underway in consumer eating preferences.
Recent Nielsen data shows that more than a third of consumers are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets. As you might have noticed, that dramatically exceeds the percentage of vegetarians or vegans, showing that broad swaths of consumer groups are looking for plant-heavy options. Leading industry research firms Mintel, MarketWatch, Innova, and Rabobank have all named alternative proteins a key food trend for 2018.
And as Lux Research shows, this is a macrotrend that is only going to grow through the coming decades, which should prompt animal protein providers to fundamentally adapt their approach in order to stay relevant in a shifting marketplace.
For a prime example of food companies embracing the newly robust market for plant-based options, see Tesco’s recent launch of the Wicked Kitchen grab-and-go product line. And expect to see more similar activity in the coming months as retailers and restaurants alike “plant-up” their offerings.
To learn more about The Good Food Institute’s work to support the growth of the plant-based market sector, click here.