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OPINIONFresh Food

Plant-Based Foods: Enough Already?

Plant-based cheese, molecular coffee highlight new offerings

The Lempert Report

The Food Marketing Institute’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report finds a rising number of households (33%) have at least one member voluntarily following a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or flexitarian diet, a trend which is higher for Gen Z and millennial households.

Plant-based proteins are foods that can fit into many of these unique diets, but are we getting carried away?

Atomo, based in Seattle, is known for its coffee. It has decided to get in the plant-based beverage business with a lab-based “molecular coffee,” rather than using traditional coffee beans. Why you ask? The company wants to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of growing coffee. 

According to the Rainforest Alliance, the increasing demand for coffee will likely be a large driver of deforestation over the coming decade, with climate change forcing many farms to shift to high-altitude, heavily forested regions. The expansion of coffee farming is now responsible for nearly 250,000 acres of deforestation a year.  

Jarret Stopforth, one of the co-founders of Atomo, who has a Ph.D. in food science and microbiology, along with more than 20 years of experience in the food industry at companies such as Chobani and Campbell, told Eater, “The coffee landscape is changing, and people are looking for more sustainable options. We see ourselves as the Tesla of coffee.”

And then there is plant-based cheese. Arivia is a developer of plant-based dairy and dairy-free products made mainly with coconut oil. The company manufactures its more than 500 products at a plant in northern Greece that has a production capacity of 2,500 tons per month. The company’s products are distributed in 50 countries around the world.

David Haines, CEO of Upfield, the parent company of Arivia, said in a statement, “Consumers are increasingly demanding quality, natural and tasty alternatives to dairy products.”

Trend or fad? I’ll let you decide.

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