Blog Was plant-based meat a fad?

Was plant-based meat a fad?

Plant-based meat surged in popularity a few years ago.

Between 2018 and 2021, alternative meat startups attracted billions of dollars in funding, Beyond Meat enjoyed a successful IPO and the Impossible Whopper debuted at Burger King.

But recent trends and sales data show popularity has cooled.

Let’s take a look. 

What we’re watching
U.S. plant-based meat sales are shriveling as the industry experiences a “precipitous decline.”

In 2023, U.S. retail sales of plant-based meat and seafood dropped 12% to $1.2 billion when compared to the same period in 2022. 

Over the last two years, sales for plant-based meat and seafood have dropped a total of 26%. 

Why it matters

According to one report from the Boston Consulting Group, plant-based meat is one of the most impactful environmental investments humanity can make.

Per the report, investments in plant-based meat alternatives result in 3x more greenhouse gas reductions than green cement and 11x more than zero-emission cars. 

Livestock production accounts for about 11-17% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 30% of the Earth’s ice-free land is used to raise livestock.

Beef and dairy cattle are especially harmful to the environment as they drive deforestation and produce massive amounts of methane.

Survey says … ouch

Rough sales numbers aren’t the only issues for plant-based meats. 

Tough to swallow

That explains why some of the biggest companies in plant-based meat are struggling.

  • Beyond Meat’s market cap hit $12 billion in 2021 — but it’s now below $500 million.
  • Impossible Foods’ internal stock prices tanked 89% between October 2021 and June 2023.
  • Venture capital funding for plant-based startups dropped 28% last year.

What’s the matter?

Consumers have some beef with plant-based meats, namely its taste, texture, and cost.

Most shoppers say that alt-meat doesn’t taste as good as conventional meat and that its texture is off. Another struggle is that plant-based meats cost about 2x per pound when compared to conventional meat.  

Still holding hope

Forecasters still maintain that the plant-based meat industry is poised for huge growth

The global market was valued at $5.3 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $33.3 billion by 2031 — growing at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2022 to 2031.

The sales slowdown also hasn’t stopped big plant-based meat milestones. Headlines include:

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