Plant-based burger with fresh vegetables

Tofu and almond milk aren’t just for vegans anymore. Before you say “eww.” chew on this: in 2016, the U.S. plant-based market topped $5 billion in sales. Leading the charge is plant-based “milk.” Dairy alternatives alone are expected to grow globally from $8.2 billion in 2014 to $19.5 billion in 2020, says the Plant Based Foods Association.

Add that nearly 87% of Americans eat plant protein and 62% do so at least once a week, according to research by ORC International for LightLife, it’s a ripe opportunity for major food companies.

Take Tyson Foods for example. In October 2016, the poultry giant bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, a plant-based protein startup that makes burgers out of ingredients like pea protein isolate, potato starch, and beet juice extract. Tyson made the investment in the plant-based startup out of Tyson New Ventures, a venture capital fund that concentrates on commercializing delicious, safe, and affordable alternative proteins.

Also tapping into the growing plant-fueled market is 301 INC., General Mills’ investment and business development arm. Earlier this year, 301 INC. invested in D’s Naturals, a startup that’s spearheading a “No Cow Revolution.” Their protein bars and spreads are free of dairy, soy, gluten, and bioengineered ingredients. The products are low in sugar to boot.

In March, Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods took a bite out of the no-meat protein trend by acquiring Lightlife Foods, that offers an entire line of plant-based “meat” made from wheat gluten and soy protein.


The plant-based market will continue growing and the food companies who offer alternative protein and dairy options for their customers show they’re willing to grow, too.

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