Image courtesy of Mouse’s Favourite
The demand for plant-based cheese is increasing, with the market expected to be worth around $924.4M this year and $3.9B by 2031, according to recent research from Fact.MR.
Between 2016 and 2020, product sales had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%, with more people looking to buy low fat, low sugar, and lactose-free alternatives to dairy cheeses.
The United States currently has the largest demand for plant-based cheeses worldwide, the research highlights. A rise in diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity in the country is said to be partly responsible for the increase in demand. More consumers have started to switch to a vegan diet, with plant-based cheese often being a healthier alternative to dairy.
As noted in the report: “Plant based cheese has numerous health benefits, including reduced blood sugar levels, increased insulin sensitivity, a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and others.”
In the UK sales of plant-based cheeses have increased by 165% since 2019. Europe has the second largest market share with an expanding vegan population, meaning it will likely lead market growth in the future.
It is China however that Fact.MR sees as driving the plant-based cheese market, as it is predicted to soon see a CAGR of 14%. This is mainly due to the country’s easy access to various sources for making vegan cheeses including oat milk and corn milk.
According to the report, soy-based cheese is predicted to have the largest market share at 40%. It is said to be a popular option due to it having a high level of vital fatty acids. Soy cheese is also said to reduce the chance of developing heart disease, and has a high number of proteins, fibre, iron, potassium, and bioactive components.
One of the major hurdles of a vegan diet for many people previously has been giving up cheese. Finding alternatives with a cheese-like texture and flavour is a lot easier today, with a wide selection available in both organic grocers and larger supermarkets.
As well as soy, other widely available vegan cheeses are made from coconut oil and nuts, usually cashews or almonds.
Some of the most popular brands in the UK include Mouse’s Favourite, available online, and from independent shops, who make artisanal style cheeses from cashew nuts ranging from creamy spreads to camembert and blue cheese. Other brands available in bigger grocery chains include Violife, Koko, VBites, Bute Island’s Sheese and Norseland’s Applewood Cheddar which are all made from coconut oil, and Daiya Foods, who make their vegan cheeses using tapioca starch. Some supermarket-own brands of vegan cheese products also exist in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
This year Violife has expanded into the Middle Eastern market, and is now sold in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.