How has the pandemic affected consumers and their everyday diets? A Packaged Facts consumer survey suggests that many consumers made the shift to plant-based diets during the pandemic. While this may have seemed like a temporary step, the survey shows that 30 per cent of participants are still eating more fruit and vegetables than they were before the pandemic hit.
Tracking the trend for plant-based diets
During pandemic days, the switch to plant-based eating began for many as part of a strategy to strive for improved health, and the learning curve lessened with so many Canadians having more time at home to focus on healthier cooking. Issues like sustainability and animal welfare also became priorities, as consumers started to look more closely at their food sources.
The cost of animal products also factored into the equation, with beef prices rising 7.8 per cent from 2020 to 2021 and continuing to rise well into 2022. During the climbing costs of the pandemic, consumers found they could save money in many cases by choosing a vegan option over eggs, meat, or milk – and as costs continue to rise, many have opted to substitute more plants into their daily diets long-term.
With plant-based options becoming more mainstream, and with events like VeganFest gaining momentum, there is a growing opinion that plants are a healthy, sustainable, and more affordable way to a healthier lifestyle.
The next step
Recognizing this shift is only the first step for the food industry. Plant-based eating is not a fad, with experts predicting that vegan and vegetarian food item sales will reach $162 billion by 2030, accounting for 7.7 per cent of the global food market.
With inflation still on a healthy rise, consumers will be looking to use their dollars wisely. This means that consumers will be looking for more items on the menu to suit their dietary needs, along with a broader variety of options.
From fine dining to fast food, many restaurants have already started expanding their repertoires to meet the plant-based demand. What started as a passing trend during the pandemic has shifted the restaurant landscape, adding a new category of healthy, sustainable consumer-driven options to the market.