The Market for Vegetarian Foods
By Caryn Ginsberg
Vegetarian eating is higher profile than ever. Movies, books, articles, and celebrity interviews tout how vegetarian foods reduce disease and obesity. More and more people are aware of how standard American fare not only hurts our health but also harms the environment and supports cruelty to animals.
It’s easier to eat vegetarian or vegan now than ever. Specialized products have expanded from natural foods stores to mainstream grocers, discount chains, and club stores. From fast food to five-star restaurants, vegetarian options are becoming more commonplace.
Exciting times do not ensure successful business ventures, however. Competition is intense. Experts estimate the failure rate for new products of all types may exceed 80 percent. As many as 60 to 80 percent of new restaurants may close (Bloomberg Business Week, 2007).
Given that the trends driving interest in vegetarian eating appear likely to continue, savvy businesspeople can not only profit by catering to this need but also build demand by offering delicious, convenient, and affordable plant-based foods. Both would-be entrepreneurs and established professionals can benefit from understanding the market and competition to determine the best opportunities for success.
This article begins by identifying the consumers seeking more vegetarian food of all kinds, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat and dairy alternatives. After exploring the implications for restaurants and non-commercial food service, the analysis narrows to meat and dairy alternative products, investigating market data, and trends.