December 17, 2020

If you’re interested in a career in the food business, you’ll want to stay in front of consumer trends and interests. And one trend that can’t be ignored is the explosion of interest in plant-based meat substitutes.

A 2020 Gallup Poll reveals that 4 in 10 Americans have already tried plant-based meat. And of those who tried it, more than 60% said they are “very” or “somewhat” likely to eat them again. In other words, plant-based meat substitutes have gone mainstream, and that trend is here to stay.

“People who do not accept the new grow old very quickly.”

– Auguste Escoffier, known as the “King of Chefs and Chef of Kings”

Restaurants have taken notice. The National Restaurant Association reports that 11,000 commercial operators started purchasing plant-based meat burgers, and 93.5% kept them on menus.

While vegans and vegetarians are mostly interested in fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based meats are designed to appeal specifically to meat eaters. Everyday consumers want to eat healthier foods without giving up the flavors they already enjoy, including meat and dairy.

Six Innovative Companies Making Plant-Based Meat Substitutes

As the masses continue consuming more plant-based meats, the market is expected to grow to $29 billion by 2025. Food business startups over the past several years are delivering products that replicate the taste, texture, flavor, and nutritional value of traditional meats.

A culinary arts or online food & beverage operations graduate with a flair for a high-growth industry and creating innovative products might consider any of these businesses for future employment.

Impossible Foods: Classic American Burger

By making the classic American burger its main competitor and selling in traditional fast-food restaurants, Impossible Foods has grown dramatically and helped fuel the trend in “plant-based” everything. Modeling the success of the impossible burger, Impossible Foods now sells “impossible sausage” and “impossible pork.” They also offer a Food Service Guide on their website to help restaurants and professional chefs incorporate plant-based meats into their menus, and in-store marketing assistance to promote its products.

plant based google trends graph

Since the Impossible Burger launched in July of 2016, search interest in everything “plant based” has exploded.

Beyond Meat: Ground Beef & Sausages

While Impossible Foods’ path to market was primarily through established restaurants, Beyond Meat’s strategy has been to sell to consumers in traditional grocery stores, with an eye towards convenience. Aside from classic patties, products include “beyond beef crumbles,” “beyond sausage,” and “beyond meatballs.”

Hungry Planet Foods: Beef, Pork, Chicken, Crab, and More

Hungry Planet Foods’ “Chef-crafted plant-based meats” were specifically designed to appeal to chefs and discerning home cooks used to cooking with the highest-quality ingredients. Simply swap in a hungry planet ingredient in place of traditional meats and deliver the same delicious meal.

Nova Meat: Steaks & Pork

Nova Meat is a startup that’s literally 3D printing plant-based meat and pork. Its flagship product literally looks, cooks, and tastes like a ribeye or New York strip steak. The company’s strategy is to sell its 3D printers to restaurants, which would then literally “print” their own plant-based meats.

Good Catch Foods: Seafood

Good Catch’s motto is, “Seafood Without Sacrifice.” Its mission is to protect the world’s oceans by providing plant-based options that mimic the rich flavors and flaky textures of fine seafoods. Products include substitutes for tuna, crab cakes, and fish cakes.

Daring Foods: Chicken

Daring Foods’ mission is to replace chicken with a plant-based alternative, declaring, “100% plant-based, 1000% not chicken.” Original breaded pieces mimic the texture, taste, and smell of deep fried chicken. Other flavors include cajun and lemon herb pieces.

Interested in a Plant-Based Food Career?

As plant-based food trends take off, culinary schools like Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts are attracting more students interested in plant-based food careers.

Escoffier student Shane Witter-Hicks, who hopes to open his own vegan restaurant someday, recognizes that it just makes sense to appeal to the flavor profiles people already enjoy. Taking initiative to pursue his passion, Shane has already partnered with food companies to help them develop recipes in order to build their brands.

Escoffier culinary arts student and plant-based enthusiast Shane Witters-Hicks“French cooking is often very dairy- and meat-heavy…[So] after making each dish, I ask myself, ‘How can I make a plant-based version of this’?”Shane Witter-Hicks, Escoffier Culinary Arts Student & Plant-based Enthusiast

Escoffier’s Career Services assists students with identifying externships and other job opportunities in the food industry. If you’re curious to understand more about plant-based meat substitutes and career opportunities in plant-based foods generally, Escoffier’s Plant-Based Culinary Arts programs is the place to start.

More articles on plant-based culinary trends:

This article was originally published on February 15, 2019, and has since been updated.