The Vegan Market: Past and future plant-based trends.

April 28, 2020
April 28, 2020 PenelopeFry

The Vegan Market: Past and future plant-based trends.

What is the vegan market?

The vegan market is the market for goods and services that exclude all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The vegan market is also known as the plant-based market. It has become a sustained world-wide growth phenomenon. This resource gives you an overview of the different sectors of the market and an outline of the key trends you need to know.

The COVID-19 crisis seems to be supporting growth in preferences for plant-based products. Sales of plant-based meat alternatives (fresh) were +279.8% in the USA for the week ending March 14 compared with the year before. In contrast, fresh chicken sales were +51.8%. 
Penelope –

You need to do your own homework before making decisions, but we have developed this overview of the vegan market to help you get started.

Not just food!

Plant-based consumer demand has infiltrated multiple market segments including:

1. Food and Drinks

The largest market is plant-based dairy alternatives, followed by meat alternatives and plant-based protein.

If you’re in this space, take a look at the market for plant-based subscription boxes. The Vegan Kind is a good example of subscription boxes that provide a variety of products. Recipe boxes are growing in popularity, and are working well after the changes in shopping caused by COVID-19. The Indpendent provides a list of examples of this plant-based subscription box market.

2. Supplements

Supplements is a significant segment of the plant-based market. Vegan consumer trends support growth in demand for plant-based protein, B vitamins, iron, and omega 3 supplements. The global plant-based protein supplements market represents a significant segment. This market size was USD 4.16 billion in 2017 and is forecast to continue significant growth beyond 2024 according to Fortune Business Insights. The Game Changers and other celebrity advocacy activities are also linked to this market. 

3. Fashion apparel

The vegan fashion movement started with action against fur from endangered species and then broadened with a push against all fur in the 1980’s. Since then, the global vegan fashion market has broadened to include all apparel types and styles. A global niche ‘message wear’ market also exists. This includes jewlery, bags, clothing and shoes that have symbols or words associated with the plant-based or vegan movement.

4. Cosmetics

Community awareness of animal testing launched the vegan cosmetics movement at the end of the 1980’s. This market has a huge diversity of brands and a well defined consumer base that is committed to products that aren’t tested on animals and which don’t include non-vegan ingredients. The Body Shop is a well known company that has successfully sustained a presence in this plant-based market niche, although not all of their products are vegan. 

5. Financial Products

There is a diverse market for cruelty free investments. First movers were managed funds, which offered to minimise non-vegan business activities. Then, the booming demand for vegan products supported ‘high profile’ publically traded company listings. In 2019, an vegan exchange traded fund broadened this market even further. In addition, key analysts such as Deloitte have reported trends of significant  investment and mergers & aquisitions activity in the plant-based market

6. Kitchen utensils

The booming interest in plant-based foods have inspired people’s kitchen purchases too. Given the rise in demand for plant-based milks, it’s no surprise that there is corresponding demand for DIY demand for niche plant-based milk making equipment products such as nut milk bags. As a result, demand for products such as personal blenders are surging alongside vegan food market growth.

7. Health and nutrition:

There is a niche for vegan and plant-based goods and services within the health and nutrition market. This also includes consumers seeking out medical practitioners for information about vegan or plant-based nutrition. Both veganism and allergies to animal-based products drive buyers seeking out goods and services in this niche.

8. Education (including online courses)

The market for vegan and plant-based education is diverse. It includes cooking lessons, nutrition, vegetable gardening, and advocacy. You will find that both online and in-person training is common.

This category also includes tourist or recreational online and in-person classes, tours and other experiences available through sites like Airbnb Experiences

9. Books and Videos

Vegan and plant-based books and videos are in demand. Certainly, some could fall into the education and cooking category. But, others don’t! These books, videos, movies and documentaries include entertainment use too. For example, The Game Changers and vegan travel shows could be classified as entertainment. They’re also purchased and donated to libraries as part of advocacy projects. A great example of such a book is “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” by Ruby Roth.

As you can see, the vegan market is a broad landscape of opportunity. Plant- based drivers can impact on consumer decisions in many ways. 

How big is the vegan market?

One report estimated that the global vegan food market alone was valued at $14.2 billion in 2018.

The report—titled Vegan Food Market by Product Type and Distribution Channel: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019-2026—was published by Research and Markets.

According to the report, the global vegan food market could reach $31.4 billion by 2026. That is equivalent to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent between 2019 and 2026.

Consumer demand for plant-based food has increased significantly in recent years and experts predict that it will continue to grow. Demand for vegan meat, in particular, is in demand from a variety of consumers—regardless of diet.  Waitrose (a grocery chain) reports that vegan choices have normalised in the UK. 

Predictions include the global vegan meat market alone reaching a worth of $6.5 billion by the year 2026. recently reported that Analysts at UBS predicted the U.S. vegan meat and protein market alone could reach $85 billion by the year 2030.

What are the trends in the vegan market?

As a vegan marketing agency, jacoi is watching key data, market reports and social commentary closely.

Long-term plant-based market trends include:

  1. A continued naming shift from ‘vegan’ to ‘plant-based’ for brands and products. 
  2. Increasing competition and choice driving a push for higher quality plant-based products in well-established markets (UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Thailand, and Europe). Unique selling propositions will move to expand from health to include a stronger emphasis on animal welfare and environmental concerns.
  3. Emerging markets will experience the highest growth rates in demand for plant-based products.
  4. Vegan options will move from optional menu inclusions to a necessity for the hospitality industry. 

This Mintel analysis video provides a good summary of key trends they were seeing leading into the start of 2020.

The significance of these shifts are at a magnitude that they have caught the attention of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

What does COVID-19 mean for the vegan market?

COVID-19 has dampened global consumption patterns. Key trends are likely to continue, but at more subdued rates.

Debates around COVID-19 are putting plant-based options in the spotlight. A succinct example is the news article from EuroNews entitled: The best way to prevent future pandemics like coronavirus? Stop eating meat and go vegan. These debates are raising the link between the use of animals in the food chain and previous outbreaks including swine flu and bird flu. Key themes of discussion range from basic fear of catching diseases from consuming or handling animal-based products to outrage regarding the percieved links between meat and virus outbreaks. A report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is adding fuel to the fire because it reported that 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. The hashtag #nomeatnocoronavirus is an example of this consumer and policy debate.

Evidence indicates that the growth in consumer preferences for plant-based products hasn’t dampened as a result of COVID-19.

For example, a study by Neilsen found that sales of Oat Milk and plant-based meat alternatives outpaced other products at the start of COVID-19 in the United States.  They compared sales activities between 2020 and the same week the previous year. We have extracted two tables from the analysis below:


2020 U.S. Dollar Sales Vs. The Same Week in 2019 – Food (Meat/Alternatives)


2020 U.S. Dollar Sales Vs. The Same Week in 2019 – Beverages

So, what does COVID-19 mean for the plant-based sector?

Time will tell, but so far the consumers preferences towards higher-priced plant-based products are stronger than we expected.

How can you take action?

If you understand the market, you will see opportunities and risks more clearly. 

For example, your small takeaway food business could offer nut milk bags as up-sells or promotions that complement your plant-based food offerings.

The key take-away you should have is that it’s becoming essential offer vegan options if you’re a food-based business. You should also use ‘plant-based’ terminology in your marketing because it appeals to the new wider wider market audience. 

The plant-based market is different. You need to think outside the box if you want your slice. Your vegan marketing needs to carefully connect with the market, including your strategy and campaigns.

Do you want to learn more about the vegan market?

Here’s what to do next:

  • Take our specialty training program!
  • Follow us on any of the socials to receive regular tips.
  • Contact us! We can help you take action.


With over 17 years in international vegetarian and vegan communities on and off-line, I work hard to follow these niche markets and trends. I have provided menu advice for over 40 restaurants and cafes across 11 countries... and counting! Vegan food is my passion, but I also like sailing and cycling.


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