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#BizTrends2020: The new normal, 5 plant-based food trends for 2020

2019 was, by far, the biggest year the meat-alternative industry had ever seen. This is not surprising given the rapid growth of plant-based living and veganism.
The year kicked off by being named the ‘Year of the Vegan’ by Economist, and it continued to change hearts and minds through the environmental activism of people like Greta Thunberg, movies like The Game Changers and the UN IPCC reports that unpacked the impact that eating meat has on the planet.

Will 2019 really be the year of the vegan?

The Economist recently declared 2019 'The Year of the Vegan'. There can no longer be any doubt that veganism, and the embracing of a greater plant-based diet, is going mainstream...

By Tammy Fry 21 Feb 2019


As the demand continues to grow, I predict that less meat, more plants is going to become the new normal. Here are some of the trends I see as ‘game-changers’ for South African grocery baskets in 2020.

Tammy Fry

The industry will redefine how plant proteins are categorised in retail.


Even in South Africa, the growth in product options has been phenomenal. This is forcing retailers to respond and adapt.  I predict that plant-protein won’t just be allocated a small portion of the freezer section, but will move into the protein mainstream and will be allocated space accordingly. 

Look out for ready-made and chilled products, a broader range of frozen goodies and a massive leap in dairy alternatives sitting alongside the milk, cheese and yoghurt.



A strong focus on convenience and flavour.


South Africa is a meat-eating nation. The majority of adults have been raised eating meat and many struggle to create a meal without ‘meat’. This was the driving force behind why my dad started making Fry’s sausages and burgers in our kitchen nearly 30 years ago. 

Plant protein is in higher demand but in order to create sustainable change in people’s food habits, food innovators are going to have to keep raising the bar on both convenience and flavour. Burgers, sausages, hotdogs, pies, schnitzels and nuggets that are versatile, easy to prepare and delicious will unlock new consumer categories and target markets.


Scale, accessibility and affordability.


Meat alternatives and plant-based eating can no longer be classified as niche. Yes, we still have a way to go when it comes to market penetration, but I believe we are truly mainstream now.

This means more product options in more locations across the country at a price-point that is competitive to meat products. While there will always be place for high-end imported products, the real growth and change is going to be instituted by the brands that can reach more people with products that are just as good.

Spur launches new vegetarian and plant-based menu

Spur Steak Ranches has launched a new plant-based menu at its restaurants across the country...

19 Nov 2019


This trend is also showing itself in food services with restaurant chains like Steers, Spur, Panarottis and Afro’s Chicken all working closely with our food innovation team to create meat-alternatives that satisfy all their customers.

Continued growth in meat-free movements.


In 2019, South Africa had the fifth-highest number of signs ups to Veganuary and we are anticipating even more this year (South Africans can take the pledge here). The Meat Free Monday movement has continued to grow year on year, and has taken on a life of its own across social media and mainstream media. 

We are even seeing big meat-focused brands like Steers embracing Meat Free Monday to encourage their customers to try their new vegetarian menu options. I believe that these movements offer a safe and accessible way for people to explore plant-based eating, and I see them continuing to grow in 2020.


More youngsters making plant-based choices and driving their family’s grocery choices.


Teenagers and young millennials are extraordinary. They are informed, brave and focused and will be the generation to institute real change for the sake of the planet, the animals and vulnerable people. The youth are embracing the idea of less meat and they are not feeling deprived by their choices.


They seem to intrinsically understand that it is fundamental to the survival of the planet. This is why I believe the plant-based movement is not a gimmicky trend likely to lose momentum – it’s a sustainable, radical and permanent shift in consciousness.

Cover image sourced from @alexpiaramcg

About the author

Tammy Fry is the international Marketing Director of The Fry Family Food Co. and Director of Meat Free Mondays in South Africa.
Don't miss BizTrendsLive!2020, a showcase of the biggest trends shaping our region!



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