Beyond Meat is a name that may be familiar to many, not just to individuals in the food and beverage industry but to the wide general public. Creator of "the world's first plant-based burger that looks, cooks and satisfies like beef," Beyond Meat Inc., is making waves to change up the future of the plant-based protein industry.

In May 2019, Beyond Meat became the first publicly listed veggie-meat company raising at least $240 million from their market debut. Despite its initial success, analysts are speculating even further growth similar to that of the non-dairy milk industry. Currently, non-dairy milk makes up about 15 percent of the dairy industry. Should similar trends follow, analysts are projecting that the meatless meat industry will grow by about $41 billion in the next decade.

The Beyond Meat IPO

The Beyond Meat IPO comes at a time when the market has seen a rise in the plant-based food industry. In the U.S. alone, meat consumption has decreased while plant-based substitute products have increased. According to a recent Nielsen report, annual U.S. sales of plant-based meat grew by 42 percent over a three-year period between March 2016 and March 2019, compared to a 1-percent growth of traditional meat. This is partially contributed to the rise of plant-based diets for health, environmental and other reasons. Vegetarianism and veganism have been the go-to practices for those seeking plant-based diets; however, in recent years there has been significant growth in a new food practice called flexitarianism.

The Flexitarian Life

Flexitarian, coined over a decade ago by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, is a term that is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. It is a term used to describe those who follow a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional inclusion of meat. According to a new study which examined the eating habits of 2,000 Americans, approximately one third of Americans consider themselves flexitarian. The study observed that seven in 10 Americans believe a flexitarian lifestyle allows consumers to stay healthy while also indulging in the foods they love, in addition to feeling better physically and setting a good example for their kids. Further, 42 percent of Americans say they are willing to cut meat out of their diet, and 37 percent have already reduced how much meat they consume.

While it is debatable whether flexitarianism may save the planet, there is no denying that the traditional carnivorous appetite of the market is shifting to a more omnivorous one. As the market continues to embrace a more flexitarian lifestyle, companies in the food and beverage industry should be aware of these varying trends.