Underestimated plant-based industry is "game-changing"

A food expert has labelled plant-based eating as “game-changing” during the recent Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) conference.

Speaking at the conference, Steven Walton, general manager of research firm HealthFocus International, said: “I believe that plant-based eating is a game-changing trend.”

He also claimed that the “game-changing” nature of the plant-based sector may actually be bigger than first thought and bigger than most research credits it for, describing the trend as more of a “revolution than an evolution.”

The organisation’s own research shows that 60 per cent of consumers are cutting back on meat-based eating and that 17 per cent of those aged 15-70 claim to eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Though Walton believes it is specifically millennials and young people driving the change.

He said that it was almost a decade ago that the trend started to develop. “We saw this emerging; we saw [consumers’] desire for more fruit and vegetables in their diet.”

Conference

The conference brings together those who want to drive innovation and global sustainability in the food industry, and is a place for discussions about the latest research and insights.

Outlining some of the barriers in place which need to be overcome to entice more people to eat plant-based, Walton highlighted taste, nutritional values, convenience, cost, availability and the preparation of new plant-based food types as the main barriers.

“Some of these issues may be perceived barriers,” he said. “Some are real. But I think they can all be overcome.”

The session at the IFT conference titled ‘The Plant-Based Diet Evolution: The Consumer, Scientific Evidence, and Food Formulation’ was ground-breaking in putting plant-based discussion at the top of the agenda.

Emily Byrd, Senior Communications Specialist at The Good Food Institute (GFI), said: “For the first time, IFT is putting plant-based meat and clean meat on the agenda. The winds are shifting, and food tech conversations are no longer completely dominated by talk about flavours and preservatives. Now, it’s about saving the world.”

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