Plant-Based Is Here To Stay

2018 showcased the continued growth in plant-based food innovation, interest, and sales.  According to Innova Market Insights, consumers are drawn to plant-based foods based on the growing cross-sectional interest that drive its popularity: sustainability, health, and ethics from plant-based ingredients. The report states that “plant-based product claims increased by 62 percent globally with growth occurring on platforms including plant proteins.”1  

As consumers are seeking alternative proteins, 80 percent of the respondents from the Innova Market Insights reported interest in obtaining protein from plant-based sources. Nuts would be a natural fit, with nuts such as pistachios providing 6 grams of protein per ounce along with the added benefits of vitamins, minerals and fiber.In addition to the growing trend of seeking alternative protein sources, snacking sales have also grown globally at US $3.4 billion in 2017.

According to a 2018 Nielsen report on snack growth and opportunity in emerging markets, consumers are seeking portable, healthy snacks that focus on clean labels and simple ingredients.3 There is a growing trend towards healthful eating and wellness as consumers look to find snack alternatives that promote these values. Based on the World Health Organization, “by 2020, preventable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart attacks will contribute to 73% of all deaths...and 31 million of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries, many of which are emerging markets.” With these statistics, governments have been moving towards developing healthy eating campaigns and reforms to encourage better food choices and eating patterns. Nuts remain a key part of a healthy diet not only in the United States, as part of the Dietary Guidelines’ Key Recommendations, but also included in the World Health Organization’s overview of a healthy diet.4,5

As 2019 begins, the plant-based predictions continue with market researchers showcasing growth predictions and the Economist magazine’s special edition of The World in 2019 declaring it as “the year of the vegan”.6 This prediction is mainly driven by the millennial consumer as the number of millennials continues to rise. Pew Research Center predicts that millennials will outgrow the number of baby boomers as America’s largest generation this year.7 According to Innova Market Insights for the top five trends in 2019, three target plant-based eating while the other two focus on bold flavors and an increased growth in snacking.8

Pistachios align perfectly with these top trends and predictors. The first is targeting consumers who are “seeking bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences,” pistachios can act as a vehicle for flavor in addition to its natural taste and vibrant colors. The second is “going plant-based” and the third is creating “alternatives for all.” Both of these focus on catering to the consumers who are seeking more protein options citing that “health remains the number one reason to buy food alternatives, with one in two US consumers reporting that health is a reason for buying alternatives to bread, meat or dairy.” This has resulted in the increase in alternative protein sources from nuts, seeds, grains, to insects. The fourth focuses on sustainable products as “the green appeal” to build more consciousness around corporate practices, packaging, and waste. Finally, the fifth trend states that snacking is now a “definitive occasion,” meaning that snacks are part of daily life not as an option, but an occasion where consumers may now put more thought into what to eat. Echoing the Nielsen report on snack growth, consumers are seeking healthy, portable snacks with simple ingredients.   

With 2018 showing the growth in plant-based and the 2019 predictors continuing to support the trend focused on consumer choice for plant-based foods, nuts/pistachios fit well in the category for consumer's desire for convenience, health, and ultimately the health of the planet.