Vegan cheese is one such dairy alternative which along with other dairy alternatives is anticipated to witness a high demand because of the high rate of disruption and increased R&D investments which stems from the growing preference for clean label products, increased environmental sustainability consciousness, and animal welfare concerns, compatibility with flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian, lifestyles and avoidance of dairy allergens. According to Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence, the market for the global dairy alternative is estimated to reach US$39.991 billion by 2025 after growing at a CAGR of 14.17% from a market size of US$18.057 billion in 2019. Thus, such a forecast sheds a lot of light on the likelihood of vegan cheese market growth which has been estimated to reach US$4.578 billion by 2025 from a market size of US$2.743 billion in 2019.
The growing number of vegan consumers are anticipated to throttle the vegan cheese market growth due to the growing trend of consuming plant-based food alternative. Additionally, the trend is being responded by the profusion of plants-based food offerings with the increasing need for supplanting the animal-based constituents of one’s diet with plant-based alternatives which stems from the need to address certain health conditions and /or a growing awareness of the environmental sustainability and need for subjecting animals to ethical treatment. Additionally, the perception of consumers about the diverse range of sources of good protein is reportedly expanding which are now known to include a greater variety of plant-based protein ingredients that are known to offer a balanced source of protein while catering to dietary and lifestyle restrictions. Substantiating these proclivities is a 2019 SPINS study which has been reportedly commissioned by GFI (The Good Food Institute) and PBFA (the Plant-Based Foods Association) which states U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods increased by 11% by April 21, 2019, attaining a total market value of UIS$ 4.5 billion. Also, the total food sales were reportedly to grow only by 2% which suggests that plant-based products have spilled the boundaries of a niche market and are gaining momentum that is poised to attain unprecedented heights.
From a regional perspective, the plant-based markets of nations like India, China, and Canada are still embryonic because there is reportedly a greater preference for food products that are derived from animals. Nevertheless, the increasing influence of the benefits of plant-based food consumption which are buttressed by recommendations from government authorities are expected to result in the integration of plant-based food products in the diets of consumers of these countries. For example, the new Canada Food Guide has been reported to encourage the consumption of plant-based meat alternatives. Besides market players are leaving no stones unturned when it comes to penetrated newer market opportunities and remains market relevant. For example, Ottawa has reportedly invested in the Canadian industry of plant protein through its $950 Supercluster initiative that comprises The Protein Industries supercluster in the Prairies which was reported to work towards making the country the leading source of plant proteins. When it comes to Germany, it has reported that the individual who has identified themselves as either nearly complete or either complete or vegetarians has reportedly increased which according to 8 million individuals as pf 2019. Further as per a study by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany that 1% of the aforementioned figure is reportedly vegans. Additionally, the study has also found that 35 % of the population considers access to vegan and vegetarian products as very important whereas 63% of the population are inclined to minimize their meat consumption. Also, during 2013 – 2018 the launch of new vegan ready-made food products almost tripled. Concerning France, which is the 2nd largest organic market in Europe, besides health consciousness, there is a growing popularity of free-from products which are products that are devoid of lactose, among others. Also, the food bill of France which was reportedly adopted by Parliament in October 2018 emphasizes the importance of healthy, safe, and sustainable food for all, which has instructed the public sector mass catering to employ 50% of products which have been locally derived and quality certified January 2022 onwards among others. Thus, from the aforesaid, it can be delineated that while certain regions are conducive to high market growth others have the potential for contributing to the vegan cheese market growth.
The challenges which the plant-based food and beverage industry like that of the vegan cheese market is faced with are related to product formulation because with more plant proteins gaining cognizance there has been an increasing need for complementary ingredients which addresses the challenges of flavors and mouthfeel among others. Thus, plant-based products like vegan cheese necessitate product developers to revisit the organoleptically pleasing and culinary functioning structure to aid in the creation of products that closely mimic its traditional counterparts. Besides the choice of proteins, other ingredients such as emulsifiers, oils, and vegetable fats are also integral to create a sensorially pleasing product. Further, due to the absence of milk fat which imparts dairy-like moth feel and texture the need for reliance on texturizers to rebuild the rich and creamy texture is unquestionable. Due to the food matrix of plant-based product different from dairy products the vegan cheese industry is fraught with challenges issues that concerns texture viz. stretch, slicability, shredability, pasty, melt, grainy, and drying mouthfeel. To address such issues that contributory role of food additives market which has been forecasted by Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence to reach US$50.326 billion by 2025 after growing at a CAGR of 6.34% from a market size of US$34.807 billion in 2019, is also worth a mention, which has the potential to augment the growth of the vegan cheese market during the next few years. For instance, AAK AB (STO: AAK) which was formally known as AarhusKarlshamn and is a globally renowned provider of value-adding vegetable oils & fats has reportedly unveiled a new portfolio that reportedly includes bespoke solutions for food manufacturers who are engaged in plant-based alternatives product development in June 2019 called AkoPlanet™ which essentially a specialty vegetable fats and oils. The organization is also known to co-develop ingredients that deliver on the desired taste with an emphasis on health and sustainability as well.