Figures Suggest Upward Trend In Meat Substitute Sales For The Coming Years

by Lily Naylor, December 2012

The next five years are a crucial time for the growth and rise in popularity of meat substitute products according to a report that was released by RTS Resources and reported in the online  Food Navigator  publication.

Over the next few years sales of such products are expected to increase, with an increasingly aware public becoming more tuned in to the possibilities of sourcing and eating ethically produced alternatives to traditionally reared and butchered meat that are not only better for their health, but also the environment too.

Products to see a modest rise in sales

The sales of all meat analogs including foods like Soya, Tofu and Tempeh are projected to rise by as much as 4.3% by the year 2016. Profit from sales of such products currently stand at around three hundred and fifty nine million Euros, but in the coming years that is expected to increase to as much as four hundred and forty three million Euros. Scientists are also confident enough to predict that the rise in the popularity of meat substitute products will be able to mirror those of farmed and butchered meat products if these figures are accurate. 

In 2010 and 2011 alone, there were over one hundred and ten new types of meat substitute products launched onto the consumer market, including a rise in the number of meat free ready meals and convenience foods. Total sales for the market for this period topped two hundred and sixty seven million dollars. The emergence of other sources of meat substitutes such as wheat derived products like Setian would also account for the rise in sales as people become more aware of the dietary choices they make and their need to cut down on the amount of meat they consume not just for environmental reasons, but also for dietary ones too.

However, conventional meat production has actually tripled in the past thirty years, so while the rise in production of meat substitute products has been substantial, traditional farming and butchering is still on the increase. This is an issue that needs addressing as worries about the environment and global warming rise, it becomes increasingly important to find nutritious and sustainable ways of producing meat substitute products and reduce the amount of traditional butchery that takes place.

Dr Eric Davidson, from the Woods Hold Research Center claims that in order for levels of nitrous oxide production to fall, over the next few decades humans need to reduce their consumption of meat products by as much as fifty percent in total.

In the future, it is also expected that new developments in meat substitute products may come from such diverse areas as the vegetable oil industry and also from bio-fuels, plants and algae.

Consumer awareness appears to be growing

Part of the reason for the expected rise in sales may come increasingly from consumer awareness as more people are introduced to meat substitute products perhaps from eating out or sourcing  vegetarian and vegan products  at specialist shops and markets and from the growing numbers of grocery stores and mainstream shops that are starting to become more aware and stock these foods. 

More and more US and UK citizens are actively turning to so called "Meat Free Mondays" or buying meat substitutes as a matter of course for their lunchtime dishes and evening meals, simply taking out the meat they would have eaten and replacing it with either it's meat substitute counterpart or introducing more vegetables as main dishes.

A report in the  New York Times  from earlier this year points out a new trend for vegetarian butchering with the introduction of a shop called The Vegetarian Butcher in The Hague, who deals exclusively in manufacturing and producing meat substitutes from plant and vegetable life that, according to the report, are pretty difficult to distinguish from the real thing.

Indeed, the Wageningen University in The Netherlands recently conducted a survey which eighty nine subjects were requested to substitute regular meat for meat substitutes in twenty different meals over a period of just over two months. In that time it was reported that more than half the participants found they actually grew to prefer meat substitutes over "real" meat after initially finding that they missed it.

The upward swing in the trend towards producing, buying and consuming more meat substitute products is a very positive one, but more needs to be done over the next few years to raise awareness to convert more people towards an ultimately healthier and cleaner way of eating.