A new report titled “Food & Beverage Forecast” compiled by market research firm Baum + Whiteman predicts that plant-based food will be the top “mega-trend” of 2018. During the previous year, the report stated, vegan-related Google searches increased by 90 percent, plant-based food consumption among Americans rose to 83 percent (with 56 percent of consumers choosing plant-based milk, in particular), and 35 percent of consumers chose alternative sources of protein over red meat. The report also explained that consumers are increasingly demanding plant-based options—particularly younger segments such as Generation X and millennials—and traditional restaurants (such as McDonald’s) are beginning to respond. According to Baum + Whiteman, restaurants in 2018 will increasingly offer dishes that are not meant to be customized to be vegan but rather target plant-based eaters themselves, while emerging vegan restaurants will seek higher-level investors. “Vegan ‘cheese’ on burgers and pizza will become commonplace,” the report states. “In fact, the quotes around ‘cheese’ will disappear.” On the retail side, the report predicts ice cream launches will boom following the lead of Ben & Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream.
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