COVID-19 Has Consumers Increasing Plant-Based Nutrition

How we eat, and what we buy for our meal planning is changing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as new surveys show that more people are gravitating towards plant-based sources of protein in response to this health crisis.

Part of this can be attributed to meat shortages that took place in some markets, but more positively a shift to plant-based nutrition aligns with the advice of doctors who link diet to our ability to fend off poor COVID-19 outcomes.

The market is responding in kind, as companies such as specialized plant-based protein companies Else Nutrition and Beyond Meat Inc. are both up triple-digits, and larger companies introducing plant-based protein options such as  Tyson Foods, Inc., Kellogg, and Bunge Ltd. are up double-digits.

Investment in alternative protein companies is growing at a torrid pace, surpassing 2019’s record $824 million, with $930 million invested in Q1 2020 alone. Among Else Nutrition’s achievements during the pandemic have come from the introduction of its plant-based nutrition products for toddlers, which officially launched online on August 11. The safe, clean label, plant-based, dairy-free, and soy-free nutrition products have so far received both USDA Organic Certification and multiple other key certifications.

“We are excited to be continuing on our pathway to commercialization,” said Ms. Hamutal Yitzhak, CEO, and Co-Founder of Else Nutrition. “Obtaining these certifications is a major step as we prepare for our U.S. launch.”

Pediatric child health studies state that well-planned, well-balanced vegetarian and vegan diets can provide for the needs of children and adolescents—conditional on ensuring the appropriate caloric and protein intake and sources of essential fatty acids, iron, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D.

Else Nutrition’s plant-based toddler complete nutrition drink meets the gold standard equivalent of human milk nutritional composition values, based on WHO international standards, among many others. Else Plant-Nutrition meets the strictest regulatory requirements and the highest nutrition standards, providing a full essential amino acid profile and a clean source of protein.

Endorsed by a board of leading U.S. and international pediatricians and nutritionists, this complete nutrition offers healthy and clean fat, protein, and key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, B12, and zinc, among others. The product uses a blend of quality whole plant non-GMO ingredients, including almond paste, buckwheat, and tapioca, with overall low sugar content.

In many ways, the pandemic has actually helped us in how we eat. With many restaurants restricted on how many patrons they can serve, we’re seeing family meals make a comeback, which studies have shown helps children by improving self-esteem, and lowers the risk of depression, as well as lower rates of childhood obesity.

But you don’t have to go vegan to improve your health. Dietitians are recommending an increase in vegetable intake, and a reduction in meat intake to find a balance, including the highly-recommended Flexitarian Diet.

In order to achieve this decrease in meat consumption, we’ve seen the rise in popularity of plant-based protein alternatives, such as the offerings from Beyond Meat. The company recently released its Q2 earnings report, beating investors’ expectations on revenue and matched on earnings per share. The key to the company’s success has been a rapid expansion in grocery sales.

Many of North America’s largest and most prominent food producers have begun adding their products to the sector, including food processors, meat producers, and grain traders.

Long-standing food processing giant Kellogg entered the fray earlier this year with its “Incogmeato” product line. The plant-based burgers, bratwurst, and sausage join Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms offerings, which have been selling veggie alternatives made with black beans and mushrooms for more than 4 decades. Unlike Else and Beyond Meat, which are not soy-based, all Incogmeato products are made with soy (non-GMO).

Last year, long before the pandemic, the largest meat producer in the US, Tyson Foods, unveiled its own alternative protein products. Through the newly dubbed “Raised & Rooted” brand, Tyson set out to create great-tasting plant-based and blended food products, including plant-based nuggets, as well as blended burgers that combine actual beef and plants. Raised & Rooted nuggets are made from a blend of pea protein isolate and other plant ingredients and contain 5g of fiber and omega-3s.

Back in September of 2019, one of the world’s biggest grain traders, Bunge, disclosed their own 1.6% stake in Beyond Meat. Today, Beyond Meat has grown its market cap to over 40% larger than Bunge.

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That wasn’t the end of the story for Bunge’s entry into plant-based meat alternatives. In March of this year, through its subsidiary, Bunge Loders Croklaan, the company launched a new portfolio of products designed to replicate the taste, texture, and cooking experience of meat. These products leverage Bunge’s supply of high-stability sunflower, canola, coconut, and palm fruit oils. The oils bring to the table flavor and aroma release, specialty fat fractions, and shortenings for juiciness and flakes for marbling, while lecithin helps enhance surface browning to improve visual appeal.

To complement the family’s choices for mealtime, parents now have the ability to serve to their toddlers an organic, clean-label, and clean process nutrition product, from Else Nutrition. Soon the US market will be seeing a lot more of Else’s products, after the company completed and signed broker agreements with three reputable natural food brokers, with combined networks that span Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Nevada, the Northwest States, and the North East (including New York City).

“These key broker agreements will significantly accelerate our push to get our product on the shelves of U.S. Natural Food chains,” said Ms. Hamutal Yitzhak, CEO and Co-Founder of Else. “This marks a major step towards bringing our clean, plant-based nutrition for toddlers to market, and making it accessible to parents and children at their local retail outlets.”