Demand for meat alternatives and plant-based proteins is on the rise. According to a recent Mintel report, the market for animal products is changing dramatically. Retailers must now adapt to dynamically meet the needs of the consumer.

As plant-based meat substitutes become more and more common, retailers have to pivot in order to keep up. Adapting quickly can be tough, but it’s what will ultimately keep businesses profitable as the market shifts.

Here’s everything you need to know about the heightened demand for meat alternatives and how retailers can rise to the occasion.

The Growing Popularity of Meat Alternatives

In recent history, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the demand for plant-based protein as an alternative to meat and seafood. In fact, in the 9-week period ending May 2, 2020, retailers saw plant-based meat sales increase by 264%!

Although animal meat will remain a reliable source of protein, it’s moving away from the center of buyers’ plates.

It’s not just the meat industry that’s being upended. The dairy industry is seeing a shift in customer preferences too. From various nut milks to oat, soy, and hemp milks, dairy alternatives are on the rise. Similar to the heightened demand for meat alternatives, plant-based dairy products saw sales surge by 347% in the first week of March, year over year.

A Greater Focus on Holistic, Sustainable Nutrition

This shift away from meat products isn’t because of contempt for animal proteins. Rather, it’s primarily the result of increased awareness of health and wellness along with a greater focus on holistic, sustainable nutrition.

Animal meat isn’t really going away — it certainly has its place in a wholesome, nutrient-rich diet. Consumers are simply eating less of meat as they opt to include a variety of tasty plant-based meat alternatives in their diets as well.

Of the many meat alternatives out there, here are a few of the most popular:

  • Tofu and tempeh are soy products offering a unique and rich source of protein.
  • Unripe jackfruit is a convincing pork substitute that’s rich in fiber albeit fairly low in protein.
  • Beyond Meat is a tasty, protein-rich beef alternative that’s made without soy or gluten.
  • Soyrizo, as the name implies, has the spice and flavor of chorizo while being made of soy.

It’s also worth mentioning that plant-based products from Impossible Foods are popular substitutes. Several major fast-food chains, including Burger King and Little Caesars, now use Impossible’s meat alternatives in several menu items. However, while they do taste remarkably like meat — the “beef” even “bleeds” like an actual burger — Impossible products are a bit different.

When creating Impossible products, producers use genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The culmination of these flavors makes for an uncanny meat alternative. However, many health-savvy buyers prefer to avoid food products that contain GMOs.

How Retailers Can Adapt to Shifting Trends

In this time of changing trends, retailers have to adapt in order to stay profitable. Supermarkets often place a huge emphasis on meat products and pay less attention to plant-based alternatives. In the past, this made sense because animal proteins have been a large part of the American diet for decades. However, as consumer desires change, so too must your marketing strategy.


Updating marketing materials to fit current trends is key to promoting newly popular meat alternatives. Perhaps you have a food cooler with a custom wrap advertising USDA Organic beef. Well, it’s time to change it to promote plant-based substitutes. Here at Excellence, we can help with that.

The shift to plant-based proteins can benefit retailers as well. Raw animal meat must be stored separately from other products due to food safety concerns. Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, lack the potentially harmful bacteria found in many raw meats and therefore present fewer food safety issues. Retailers can market and sell meat alternatives safely out of vertical units right next to packaged meals and other food staples.

The Future of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

Plant-based proteins aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re actually getting more popular by the day. In order to keep up with this trend, retailers must pivot and adapt to the changing market.

Flexibility is key. It’s what allows retailers to quickly alter marketing materials in order to maximize sales. If you stay flexible, you’ll stay successful.

Are you ready to adapt to the latest trends? Contact us today to discuss your unique commercial refrigeration and advertising needs!