In the past few years, the wonders of plant-based proteins have been proclaimed by many. Not without reason: they’re healthier than animal protein and more environment-friendly.

A new study published by the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission analyses the market and explains some trends that should impact it in the coming years.

1. The rise of flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets

These types of diets, which limit or completely eliminate meat, should continue to be adopted by more and more people. This will lead to an increase in demand for pulses (like field beans and peas, lupines, chickpeas, lentils) and processed plant protein products. The flexitarian diet, in particular, “is likely to drive significant changes” in the market.

2. Higher demand for gluten-free products

If you’ve been paying attention to the news and grocery store shelves, you’ve certainly noticed that gluten-free foods have become increasingly common. The prediction is that this trend isn’t going away soon, which should lead to higher demand for pulses, soya bean, and their ingredients.

3. Concern for the environment and health have more influence

The number of people who plan their diets according to health and environmental concerns is growing. Animal protein has a negative impact on the environment – beef production uses 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas than plant-based proteins like beans and peas – and it’s associated with significant health risks. This is likely to be a big driver of wider adoption of diets that are rich in vegetable proteins.

Read also: Insects for animal feed – a growing trend?

4. People have less time to cook

These days, people spend less time cooking – a trend that very likely won’t be reserved in the near future. That should increase the demand for processed plant-based proteins and frozen or canned pulses. Conversely, it should also lead to a decrease of interest in dry pulses.

5. Growing demand for organic and non-GMO animal feed

The demand for organic or non-GMO animal feed is growing, the study claims, and with it the demand for vegetable protein. In fact, the interest in organic animal feed is growing so quickly that there isn’t currently enough supply of protein-rich organic crops – especially soy.