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Sustainability and Political Economy Series
| 25/04/2022

The Plant-Based Revolution: Fad or Fixture?

Plant-based foods are an increasingly popular alternative to meat and dairy products. In the second report of Stonehaven and Robertsbridge's Sustainability and Political Economy series, we explore the changing place of meat in the diets of people around the world, as well as the policy implications and business opportunities that come with change as sustainability pressures mount.

Read the full report below or get in touch with us to find out how we can support your business in acting decisively and confidently through this transition.

Why does meat matter?

Meat production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as much as the daily operation of the world’s entire transport network combined. This highlights the impact that reducing meat consumption can have on the trajectory of climate change. As awareness grows amongst the public and policy makers of the climate impacts of meat and dairy production and consumption, it is in businesses’ interest to reduce their exposure to this risk and accelerate the transition towards plant-based alternatives. Indeed, the meat-alternative market is expected to grow 157% from £13.6billion to £35billion over the next seven years, a huge business opportunity for brands who establish themselves in this space.

What did we find out?

Most respondents across all markets sampled reported a willingness to change diet and eat less meat that was not dependent upon socioeconomic factors like personal finances. However, there are a myriad of barriers, of which price is the primary consideration, creating a gap between willingness to change and actual behavioural change. The cross-demographic willingness to change diet for environmental reasons, demonstrates to governments that meat consumption is understood to be an environmentally related behaviour and there are policy opportunities in this area. Meanwhile, for business there is enormous potential demand, and financial reward, in the plant-based market. Using respondent’s intentions to change and willingness to make sacrifices for environmental reasons, we have identified four waves of people who may shift towards plant-based alternatives. Each group has distinct challenges to overcome, requiring tailored interventions from governments and businesses alike for those who want to fully realise the potential in this space.

What does this report tell us?

It outlines the barriers most impactful to each waves, and what government and business can do to overcome them. This is supported by policy and business recommendations to capitalise on the opportunities created and, in doing so, galvanise pro-environmental intentions to maximise the environmental impact and market share associated with the shift towards plant-based alternatives.

You can read the full report below.

This is the second report in the Sustainability and Political Economy Series to be published by Stonehaven and Robertsbridge. You can read our first report of the series, ‘The Future of Flying – Aviation, Sustainability and the Political Economyhere.