Annual alternative meat sales ending April 2019 totaled just over $800 million, a 27 percent increase over two years, per SPINS research as reported by Good Food Institute. This growth is likely due, in large part, to younger consumers.
According to the latest U.S. census, Generation Z and Millennials, ages 7 to 39, account for about half of the U.S. population and may pass on consumer beliefs to the next generation: Generation Alpha. Together, these three groups represent more than half of the U.S. consumer base and tend to be environmentally conscious when purchasing food.
Consumers’ environmental consciousness is key to the growth of meat alternatives because the role of livestock in diet, climate, and resource consumption may influence purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study by Cone Communications found that 87 percent of Millennials and 94 percent of Gen Z agree that companies need to address urgent environmental issues.
Worldwide, livestock accounts for about 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, per FAO, which have been linked to climate change. On the other hand, a 2018 study by the University of Michigan found that a Beyond Burger, one of the leading meat alternative brands, produces 90 percent less greenhouse gasses, uses 93 percent less land, and has 99 percent less of an impact on water scarcity than a quarter pound of U.S. beef.
Today, meat alternative products are plant-based, using ingredients like pea protein and a variety of plant oils as well as adhesive agents and preservatives. Additionally, clean meat (lab-grown meat produced via stem-cell fermentation) could be on commercial shelves within the next five years, per GlobalData.