Shoppers can expect to see even more plant-based food options in their local supermarkets, thanks to a new effort spearheaded by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the only trade organization for the plant-based foods industry.
The group has launched a spinoff organization, the PBFA Research and Education Fund, designed to support retailers in their efforts to expand their plant-based offerings as demand continues to increase.
PBFA board members, Jaime Athos, CEO of The Tofurky Company, and Martin Kruger, COO of Follow Your Heart, will sit on the board of the new Research and Education Fund, as well as Julie Mann, global protein program manager at Ingredion Incorporated. The Fund will be headed up by PBFA Executive Director, Michele Simon.
“It’s an exciting time for the plant-based foods industry,” Simon said in a statement. “This new initiative will allow us to apply best practices to support this growing sector and reach more consumers.”
The group’s goal is to initiate research projects focused on merchandising plant-based foods for optimal growth, as well as highlight shopper motivations. The majority of households purchasing plant-based foods aren’t vegan or vegetarian, but more “flexitarian” – frequently opting for meatless meals while still consuming traditional meat, eggs, and dairy products.
A recent survey conducted by Lightlife, manufacturer of best-selling plant-based Smart Dogs, and a PBFA member, found that most Americans (65 percent) “believe that plant protein can be just as hearty and satisfying as animal protein.” Eighty-seven percent of Americans regularly consume plant-based protein, according to Lightlife, with 62 percent doing so at least once a week.
Like most current trends, the shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by Millennial shoppers, who are more likely to reduce their animal protein consumption than previous generations, and most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues, and environmental impacts when making their purchasing decisions.
The launch of the Fund comes as recent data released by GlobalData found a worldwide shift away from meat, citing a whopping 70 percent of the world population is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.
And vegetables have never been in greater demand, either — with their role in preventing and even reversing diseases like obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease, consumers are opting for more plant-based vegetable-centric meals than ever before.
The PBFA Research and Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, making it eligible for donations, foundation grants, and corporate gifts, all of which, Simon notes, will help to "support the plant-based movement in an innovative way to help grow the market."
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