Investing in the Movement: Plant-Based Food Is the New Black
An old investing proverb states “the trend if your friend.” Tested and proven through time, the proverb rarely does an investor wrong. To that point, two emerging trends that should be commanding attention are plant-based foods and food delivery. Both were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic but in slightly different ways as consumers became more in tune with their bodies while having to cope with shuttered restaurants amid global lockdowns and social-distancing mandates. With the coronavirus slowly slipping into the rear mirror, these markets should continue their upward treks undergirded by consumers adopting healthier, more convenient lifestyles. At the intersection of plant-based foods and food delivery is PlantX Life Inc., a company on a mission to not just be a brand but also a lifestyle, partner to all brands, and the digital face of the entire plant-based community. Others looking to capitalize on the trend away from animal-based foods include Beyond Meat Inc., Tattooed Chef Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Oatly Group AB.
- The global market for plant-based foods could see fivefold growth by 2030, according to a recent Bloomberg article.
- PlantX Life is a first mover combining a leading e-commerce platform selling exclusively plant-based products with a meal preparation and delivery service.
- Delivery of online sales of prepared vegan meals and drinks began in January and have since expanded in Canada and begun in Los Angeles.
- PlantX works with sports stars Venus Williams and Justin Fields as ambassadors and world renown vegan chef Matthew Kenney as its chief culinary officer.
Double-Digit Growth Trends
It wasn’t long ago that faux meat was scoffed at — that is until Beyond Meat and rival Impossible Burger became international brands, landing on menus and in refrigerated coolers at leading stores and restaurants and generating valuations into the billions of dollars. The trend toward plant-based meat hiccupped during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 insomuch that restaurant sales fell while the U.S. plant-based food industry grew as a whole. Analysts at IMARC note that the global plant-based food market reached $35.6 billion in 2020, while forecasting double-digit annual growth of 10.4% through 2026, which equates to near doubling for the market to $64.5 billion.
The global market for plant-based foods could see fivefold growth by 2030, according to a recent Bloomberg article. That increase is helped by rising consumer demand for sustainable products. “Sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives reached $29.4 billion in 2020, and could increase to $162 billion by 2030, comprising 7.7% of the global protein market,” the article stated.
“Meat and dairy substitutes are marketed as healthier and more sustainable than the products from animals that they aim to replace,” the article continued. “They’re getting popular just as consumers become more conscious of the environmental footprint of food, and aim for healthier eating.” The forecasts indicate that consumers are increasingly moving towards vegan diets and ditching long lines in favor of ordering online and eating premium food without leaving the comforts of home.
These aren’t exactly new trends; they were already emerging trends that accelerated during the pandemic. PlantX Life Inc. is an early mover in the space as the first public company focusing on the plant-based e-commerce sector, in addition to a network of brick-and-mortar retail locations. The company is similar to a specialized Amazon.com with added features. Since inception in February 2020, the company has moved with purpose toward a core objective of becoming the most trusted and convenient destination for people living plant-based lives. Brands under the PlantX umbrella include XFood, Bloombox Club, Little West, New Deli, Locavore Bar & Grill and Cloudburst Café.
The PlantX platform is robust, offering consumer packaged goods for plant-based lifestyles, an integrated home-delivery system for thousands of vegan grocery items, meals, wines, beers recipes, indoor plants and more, as well as an online community where like-minded individuals connect from different parts of the world. PlantX has built trust as a premier e-commerce platform and manufacturer through partnerships with venerable restaurants, nutritionists, chefs and brands.
PlantX Star-Studded Lineup
PlantX offers more than 5,000 plant-based consumer products available for home delivery ranging from foodstuffs, vitamins, cosmetics, pet food and more. In a move of marketing genius, the company partnered with sports superstars and plant-based lifestyle advocates as brand ambassadors, including tennis star Venus Williams, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, extreme skier Nick McNutt and extreme mountain biker Rémy Métailler. These professional athletes and personalities share and promote their favorite products from individual juices to complete meals for fans and PlantX shoppers to follow.
PlantX’s XFood lineup of innovative plant-based meals are designed by restaurateur and famous vegan chef Matthew Kenney, who is also the company’s chief culinary officer. Kenney is world renowned as the chef behind more than 40 vegan restaurants, including Double Zero, Plant Food and Wine, Baia, Alibi and Sutra. In order to spearhead the movement towards vegan home-meal delivery, PlantX partnered with Vancouver-based food tech company UpMeals.
Expansion in Canada, Launched in U.S.
PlantX’s meal-delivery plan was first launched in Canada in January 2021. Customers could order a la carte, three-day or five-day meal plans that include breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of a “set it and forget it” subscription service. Meals were shipped once a week. By June, the company responded to growing demand in Canada by adding a second delivery day each week for its subscription meal programs.
In July, the meal delivery service was launched in the United States, with packaged meals prepared at PlantX’s ghost kitchen in Los Angeles first reaching American customers on August 9. The three-day and five-day meal plans retail for $99.95 and $174.95, respectively, with the company offering a 10% discount for first-time customers. Meals are currently available in Southern California within a 60-mile radius of Los Angeles, which covers a population of roughly 19 million people.
Going forward, PlantX intends to steadily add new markets to eventually service the whole country. The decision to launch in the populous Greater LA region could prove prescient to build brand recognition and leverage its team and operational structure, considering LA was ranked the second most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly city in America by WalletHub.
PlantX Teams with Disney
Companies are often best known for the company that they keep, and PlantX is checking the boxes. This month, the company’s Bloombox Club Limited business, a U.K.-based e-commerce platform that sells and delivers indoor plants and accessories (pots, watering cans, misters, etc.), partnered with the Walt Disney Company. Per the pact, the new partners are working together to promote Bloombox products and celebrate the release of Disney’s new film, “Jungle Cruise,” which has launched in theaters and on Disney+. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, the film reeled in more than $90 million in theater and streaming sales during opening weekend early this month.
The co-branded campaign will include Bloombox promoting the film via a new Amazonian exotic plant collection. Among other things, the promotion will also include a social media campaign and a treasure hunt on the Bloombox website.
Meat Alternatives Are Here to Stay
Billions of dollars in investment are going into the plant-based food space as companies and investors alike recognize the market opportunity. The secret is out that plant-based foods aren’t some newfangled concoctions swirled up in beakers by chemists in lab. The science is sound, the taste and texture are comparable to their animal counterparts, and the recipes are designed by world-class chefs.
Beyond Meat Inc. is one of the fastest-growing food companies in the United States, offering a portfolio of revolutionary plant-based proteins made from simple ingredients without GMOs, bioengineered ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol. This month, Beyond Meat teamed up with Pizza Hut to add plant-based pepperoni to the menu developed jointly by both companies’ culinary teams. Made from rice and peas, Beyond Pepperoni reportedly crisps like traditional meat pepperoni with zero cholesterol or animal products and is being introduced for a limited time at 70 locations in five cities.
Tattooed Chef Inc. signature products include ready-to-cook bowls, zucchini spirals, riced cauliflower, acai and smoothie bowls, and cauliflower pizza crusts found in leading food stores throughout the United States. This month the company released results from the second quarter, which spoke to growing demand for its products. Revenue was $50.7 million, a 45.9% increase compared to $34.8 million in the prior year period, including Tattooed Chef-branded product revenue climbing to $33.1 million, an increase of 62.3% compared to $20.4 million in the prior year period.
Amazon.com Inc. is an e-commerce giant that sells tens of thousands of plant-based products. Additionally, Amazon has a direct interest in the wellness space since it bought Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion in 2017. Whole Foods last year debuted a plant-based dairy alternative product (read as “plant-based milk”) that was developed by NotCo, a company that was backed by venture capital including Bezos Expeditions, a business of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Oatly Group AB is the world’s original and largest oat drink company. Oatly has branched out into a portfolio of oat-based dairy alternatives including milk, ice cream, yogurt, cooking creams and spreads. The Sweden-based company has its products in more than 20 countries and recently increased capacity at its facility in Ogden, Utah, to support an acceleration in consumer demand.
The investment community will surely be watching for Impossible Burger to pull the trigger with an initial public offering, as a signal that Wall Street appetite is growing again for plant-based food companies. Safe to say, that plant-based food and drinks aren’t going anywhere but up, as they become staples in the lives of younger generations, who, by the way, like the food brought right to their door.