Plant based is a broadly used term that indicates expanding diets to include more plant proteins in place of meat. While some adhering to a plant based diet may be vegan or vegetarian; a plant based lifestyle can be much more inclusive.
"It's more about making a conscious decision to include alternative proteins as part of your diet while not completely eliminating meat," said Michael Klein, of USA Rice. "Think of it as a rotation as opposed to a direct swap."
Plant based products have become competitive in both taste and texture, and have seen real buy in and investment from foodservice and corporate America.
Domestic retail sales of plant-based foods greatly outpaced overall grocery sales in the past year, surging 11 percent, according to data from the Good Food Institute, an independent nonprofit that seeks to accelerate the acceptance of plant based and cell based meat, eggs, and dairy. According to industry analysts Datassential, more than half of U.S. consumers say they are eating more plant based foods and looking for both healthier and more sustainable diets. Add that data to the massive corporate investment within the retail space and it's clear the plant based movement is nowhere close to peaking.
"This is where the great opportunity is for U.S. grown rice," said Klein. "Sustainably grown, transparent farming practices, unparalleled food safety, and limited food miles - and oh right, a plant! This whole movement is about providing alternative protein options that meet taste and texture expectations while using familiar ingredients. We intend to capitalize on this."
Rice is the only large scale row crop grown in the MidSouth that goes from “field-to-table,” with little processing, and truly meets the definition of “local food.”