Sustainable futures: plant-based expands into new categories


Brands and innovators are taking plant-based into new categories, expanding ranges and trialling new plant ingredients.

As awareness grows around the link between food and the environment, global shifts towards plant-based diets are building. Activist Greta Thunberg turned her attention to the food industry in May 2021 and called on her followers to adopt plant-based diets.

In food, along with meat and dairy, innovations in plant-based fish are growing: Brazil’s The New Butchers has launched plant-based salmon and codfish.

The plant-based food space is expanding rapidly thanks to new food tech innovations that turn yeast and fungi into dairy, egg and meat alternatives in stunning ways, but even on a less hi-tech level, more plant-based ingredients are now found within prepared foods, such as frozen meals, soups and baked goods, pointing to the broadening commitment of the food industry to this sustainable solution. While food leads the way, there is also a raft of innovation across other sectors that will see this space continue to grow and evolve.

– Kara Nielsen, Director of Food & Drink, WGSN

Cross-industry innovations

Alongside food, other sectors are driving plant-based. According to WGSN social media data, mentions of keywords related to plant-based are strong in the food and drink and beauty sectors. Within food, conversations around plant-based products and lifestyles on social media typically peak in January, while in beauty, plant-based has shown steady growth. In fashion, WGSN e-commerce data shows that products described as having plant-based materials or dyes are emerging, doubling in volumes YoY in April 2021 in the UK and US.


Brands to watch

Brands are expanding into new categories. Mizuiro.inc created a line of plant-based crayons, Eco Lips has rolled out what it claims is the first environmentally sustainable lip balm tube made entirely from plants, while Dworkin’s fashion brand, Sylven, launched its first trainer made from materials including apple waste and coconut husk.


To read more about the key stories within sustainability, WGSN subscribers can access the full Sustainability Bulletin: June 2021 right here.

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