Future of Food I: Is Plant-Based Meat Poised to Rebalance Global Protein Consumption?

The rise of plant-based meat: UBS forecasts a +30% market CAGR through 2025

In the next decade our eating habits will undergo profound change. The development of plant-based foods, gene editing and food personalization will disrupt the whole food value chain. In this first Q-Series report, we analyze the fast-growing plant-based meat (“PBM”) industry and forecast its impact on the $1.2 trillion animal meat market and value chain. To frame these implications and to size the market opportunity we use UBS Evidence Lab’s survey of 3,000+ consumers and 50 restaurant franchisees, reviews of 20+mn social media interactions, and we interviewed 20+ protein scientists/supply chain experts. We forecast the global PBM market to reach ~US$50 billion by 2025, or 2.5% penetration of total meat consumption volume (~4% on a USD value basis), from sub-1% today.

Primary data sources provide insight on trial, retention, conversion, and more

UBS Evidence Lab survey data show consumer PBM use is low in developed markets, but rising fast, with consumer burger trialling at just 8% in the US and mid-20% in the UK and Germany. Survey data show 73% of interested buyers rank "taste curiosity" as their top reason to try PBM, whereas loyalists cite health perceptions and environmental concerns. To convert non-PBM users, respondents suggest food producers improve taste and affordability to drive adoption. In the restaurant franchisee survey, we learn PBM is attracting incremental traffic, boosting sales and yielding a high 20% QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) repeat purchase.

UBS introduces an interactive model to forecast 2025 consumption scenarios

We introduce an interactive model to forecast global plant-based meat demand. Based on primary data sources and collaboration with UBS analysts spanning four geographical regions, our base case models global PBM volume consumption to grow at a +31% CAGR through 2025 vs. an animal-meat CAGR of 0.9%.

The rise of plant-based meat has implications for sectors across the value chain

The speed at which consumers trial and repeat/exit the PBM category carries implications for food producers, chemicals and ag processors, restaurants, and grocers. We view Food & Restaurants as having the best exposure, while upstream industries are mixed. In Food, PBM brings a growing profit pool to pure-plays and food producers. In Restaurants, PBM is boosting traffic and sales comparisons. 

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