On Friday last week, Richard Wyborn and I attended the Bread & Jam Plant-Based Summit at Conway Hall in London. Despite inflation, impending recession, and a recent lull in plant-based sales growth in both Europe and North America we found an impressively high-energy group of entrepreneurs and investors in good heart and positive about future prospects for the sector.
The Plant-based revolution is far from over
We agree with those panellists who expect a long-term transition which will be measured in decades, with occasional ‘bumps in the road’. Marco Bertacca, CEO of Quorn, showed how a long tail of new brands and products added to shelves since 2019 and more recently rationalised by supermarkets has driven perceptions of topline feast and famine. Meanwhile solid brands and products (such as those offered by Quorn and Cauldron) have continued a steady rise.
Winning brands are cutting through
While consumers continue to seek plant-based alternatives, many of the products launched in the last few years have not delivered. Panellists pointed to ‘me-too’s in meat alternatives, low rates of sale and low purchase repeat rates. But there’s a silver lining: for Andy Shovel of This the shelves are less cluttered and winning brands have a clearer opportunity to stand out.
It’s all about taste
There is still plenty of opportunity in plant-based, especially in dairy, according to panellists from Sainsbury’s, Kerry, and Vegetarian Express. Closing the taste gap (and price gap) should be the first priority of aspiring brands.
The industry can and will lobby more effectively
Several speakers referred to the need to level the playing field vs. a powerful meat and dairy lobby. Marco Bertacca will be reaching out to fellow mycoprotein producers to collaborate on a global basis.
Keep the faith
To end on a high note, Andrew Allen of Biff’s delivered an inspirational romp through the brand’s development from street food to supermarket brand.
Well done to the team and Bread & Jam and to the sponsors for an informative and enervating event!
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