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Coronavirus Causes Global Shift To Plant Based Diet

Consumers Shifting Purchasing For Economic & Personal Reasons

The Coronavirus has caused an unexpected surge in demand for plant based meat & dairy alternatives. This has been attributed to a number of factors including health, logistics, and economic reasons. Sales of meat alternatives are surging while plant based butter sales are outpacing conventional butter.

Last week alone sales of plant based meat & dairy substitutes climbed 200% in the US in comparison to this week last year, according to the consumer data group Neilsen.This follows yesterday's news that Chinese consumers are seeking out plant based meals following the re-opening of restaurants in China.

Supply Chain Issues Make Meat & Dairy Suffer

Aside from health conscious consumers reducing their animal product intake, economic and logistics issues are hurting the traditional meat and dairy supply. 32% of the US pork supply has halted due to the current lockdown, hurting supplies and temporarily stopping production.

Dairy is not fairing much better. Caroline Bushnell of the Good Food Institute stated yesterday, "Since COVID-19 began, we've seen plant-based product sales growth exceed that of animal-based products, both in meat and dairy categories. Due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, some milk that is used to make butter is now being dumped. As is the case with plant-based meat, plant-based dairy supply chains are much better poised to respond in real-time to changing market conditions and are not vulnerable to the type of disruptions inherent in industrial animal agriculture."

It remains to see how these short term changes will affect consumer behaviour in the long term. While meat and dairy substitutes are a transitional product and not a staple to a healthy plant based lifestyle, it is positive that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to fore the connection between public health and animal meat consumption, causing consumers to opt for a plant-based diet.

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