Opinion

Op Ed: Yves Potvin, Founder and President of Konscious Foods, on How the Industry Can Recover

Yves Potvin, the visionary behind Konscious Foods, has made a significant impact in the plant-based food industry.

A classically trained French chef from Quebec, Potvin’s culinary journey unexpectedly led him to the world of plant-based foods. He is credited with creating the first fresh veggie hot dog and has established three successful plant-based food companies across three decades: Yves Veggie Cuisine, Gardein, and most recently, Konscious Foods, which continues to thrive in turbulent times.

In this piece, Yves clearly identifies two key points on which plant-based brands must focus in order to succeed, and in doing so, he says, “I’m confident next year will put the meatless industry’s business back on track”.

The Plant-Based Bubble Has Burst: What the Industry Needs to  Succeed the Next Chapter

By Yves Potvin

The plant-based food industry is still relatively new. Over the last few decades, investments and innovations in the space have resulted in explosive demand for some of today’s most well-known meatless brands. And the industry’s growth is for good reason: by 2040, it’s anticipated that only 40% of the global population will eat meat.

However, with the boom of the plant-based industry, we have also witnessed a bust of some of the lofty expectations placed on cutting-edge plant-based food technology. With inflated valuations and struggling sales, some of today’s most well-known plant-based brands have been wrestling to regain the success they’ve seen in previous years. Despite recent hiccups in the plant-based industry’s growth, I’m confident next year will put the meatless industry’s business back on track if leaders focus on two key areas, as follows.

1. Focus on the affordability of plant-based options

A complex and difficult economic environment has challenged consumers in the past year. As everyday essentials cost more, shoppers are increasingly monitoring their budgets. It’s important that consumers feel the money they are spending on one of the most key essentials – food – is well spent.

“Price parity is a concept I have focused on for all of the products I have developed”

For the plant-based industry to grow and scale, its products must meet four critical areas of consumer demand: nutrition, affordability, convenience, and taste.

Plant-based sushi by Konscious Foods
© Konscious Foods

If a plant-based option is more expensive, less nutritious, or inconvenient than its animal-protein counterpart, it will be challenging to get shoppers to try plant-based foods.  If we can deliver on these fundamental considerations, I’m confident that consumers will demonstrate a renewed interest in trying meatless options. Price parity is a concept I have focused on for all of the products I have developed, and it has consistently shown success in consumer appeal, regardless of the consumer’s diet.

2. Diversifying distribution channels

In addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, more consumers are seeing the benefits of a flexible plant-based diet. More consumers are open to vegan products if they can deliver a good flavor profile and a strong protein source. With this increased demand and awareness of plant-based options, optimizing distribution and differentiating selling channels will help plant-based brands meet a diverse consumer base.

Gardein_fishless-fillet
©Gardein

A decade or two ago, one would likely see vegan products in specialty natural foods stores. Today, it’s more likely to see plant-based options at mainstream retailers. Ensuring that these products can reach a diverse subset of consumers in various selling channels is vital to growing the plant-based sector in the future. And with Gen Z gaining buying power, we can expect their desire to eat more consciously will continue to gain traction at scale.

As the food industry continues to evolve, I’m confident that these two areas of opportunity will help plant-based companies find success in the next year and beyond, in the aftermath of the meatless boom that was the late 2010s. By creating affordable options and expanding the delivery channels of plant-based options, more consumers will be able to try delicious and sustainable food options, which will support the continued success of the plant-based industry.

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