the grocery store vegetable (Vegetables) is booming. There are dozens of companies scrambling for a location, mutual funds placing millions worth of dump trucks in the industry, and lawmakers trying to stem the tide. Most consumers are indifferent to the business boom. Among other things, because most ignore the meaning vegetable. Everything changes when it is explained that the booming business is based on the use of more and more plant products and alternative (non-animal) proteins in food, which will change consumption habits, production systems and diets. All in line with the European strategy to reduce pollutant emissions in the agri-food sector.
Analysts from Bloomberg Intelligence predict that the value of the global plant-based foods market will increase fivefold in less than 10 years (2030). You are part of the room food technologya broad term that encompasses all the players that apply technology to the value chain of the agri-food industry and that employs 400 new companies with great growth potential in Spain alone (startups), according to consultancy Eatable Adventures.
The Institute for Foreign Trade (Icex) sees Spain as the fifth country with the highest investments – 695 million in 2021 – in ecosystems food technology, to Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. They are not small numbers. A single niche, the Spanish market for plant-based substitutes, has positioned itself as the second largest in Europe, with sales of 448 million, including 318 million in plant-based milk, 87 million in “plant-based meat products” – an alternative protein to animal meat – and 42 Millions of dollars for non-dairy yogurt, according to the Smart Protein Project.
The rise of the food and beverage business vegetable has promoted collaboration between the main players in the sector. In April, the Vegetable Association was created to represent the sector and bring together its key players. It is promoted by brands such as Alpro (Danone), Frías, Iparlat, Liquats Vegetals and Vivesoy (Pascual). Its objectives include: “To create a stable legal framework, shared by all actors in the chain, that will allow their growth to be recognized and facilitated, in favor of a necessary transition towards a healthy food system.”
The associative movement within an expanding company makes sense. The total investment in vegetable It keeps growing and 20% of it comes from big corporations. “Almost all global food companies are launching investment vehicles,” explains the CEO of Eatable Adventures, José Luis Cabañero, “the first were the big meat companies such as the American Tyson Foods USA, the Brazilian JBS or Cargill. Come in startups and in up-and-coming companies in the industry”.
Money moves fast because profits are on the horizon. Case in point: The global market for plant-based “vegan cheese” alone was valued at $2.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow further to $4.7 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. Europe accounts for about a quarter of this market with brands such as Violife and Tyne Chease Limited.
The race is started and the land is fertilized. Alternative proteins will account for 11% of all protein consumption by 2035, according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Blue Horizon Fund (The Untapped Climate Opportunity in Alternative Proteins). 2017, Veggies, the sum of vegetarians—they don’t eat meat—; Vegans – they eat nothing of animal origin – and flexitarians – meat from time to time – made up 7.8% of Spain’s adult population. Since then the number has increased. The phenomenon vegetables it has not been altered by the pandemic and has continued its inexorable growth. Lantern added 1,300,000 new people in 2021 (34% growth in two years). So overall vegetables in Spain there are already over five million people, slightly more than the total population of a country like Ireland.
Vegetable drinks and burgers are the categories with the highest penetration, although when it comes to meat substitutes, they face challenges such as texture, taste and the number of ingredients in their composition. Other products vegetable whose presence on supermarket shelves is gradually increasing are plant-based fish, cheese and vegan eggs. Also in terms of penetration of plant-based beverage consumption, Spain ranks first in Europe, ahead of traditionally more vegetarian countries such as Belgium or the Netherlands, which account for almost 70% of the total plant-based food market in Spain. Industry estimates anticipate growth of 10% by 2025.
Business prospects attract investment and business movement. Giants of vegan production like Upfield, the largest company in the world, owners of brands like Flora, Tulipán, Proactiv or Oatly are in the crosshairs of big investors. Not only private investors are moving. The Danish government launched the largest investment in research and development in late 2021 vegetable of an EU country so far. Cargill has also moved in Spain. It has invested in Cocuus, a Navarra-based bioprinting company – the production of plant or cell-based proteins using 3D laser printing – and in Cubiq Foods, another company tarnishing Barcelona, which produces fats by cloning through biosynthesis without sacrificing animals.
It’s not all good news. The war in Ukraine has also unsettled activities food technology. It’s not just about the scarcity of some raw materials – legumes or cereals. Energy, which wasn’t a critical factor in the industry, is now. “In the last year,” says Cabañero (Eatable Adventures), “energy appears as the second production cost of the product, after raw materials.”
Despite the general instability, inertia is keeping the business very much alive. The year 2021 has been good for investments and emerging companies like Glovo – controlled by Delivery Hero -; BiotechFood, owned by giant JBS; Heura Foods, Biome Makers or Crowdfarming are keeping up and participating. They operate in a relatively comfortable environment, with legislation broad enough to make these products without further regulation, except on seemingly controversial issues like meat cloning. In the trade press, it’s easy to find lists of celebrities who have diversified their investments in the new food wave. “We are experiencing a paradigm shift, a transition in which plant-based options are combined with products of animal origin,” says the vegetable association. In the grocery store, androids dream of electric sheep.