A new report published by food industry research firm Packaged Facts found that due in large part to undercover investigations at factory farms, consumers continue to be increasingly concerned with animal welfare within the food industry. “Consumer concern over animal welfare issues has reached critical mass in the meat and poultry industries, creating a new generation of challenges and opportunities,” Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle said. In addition to recommending that food companies stay relevant by making animal welfare claims on their products, Packaged Foods urged companies to consider developing more plant-based items to meet growing consumer demand. “Unsurprisingly, some animal-based protein companies are already looking to the future by investing in or acquiring plant-based protein companies, as well as next-generation meat substitute products,” the report stated. “Expect this trend to gain momentum as marketers respond to the growing demand by vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians for more and better products.” In its 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend report, consumer goods intelligence agency Mintel found that products with a “vegan” claim increased by 257 percent since its 2010-2011 report and named plant-based foods as one of the top six consumer trends of the year.