The Silver Lining for 2020

As disruptive as 2020 was, there is a shift happening and consciousness is rising. All things plant-based and vegan are growing.

What a cautious start to 2021!

The re-emerging Covid-19 cases in NSW& QLD is dampening our spirits. Still, it appears the authorities and the public are taking this more seriously, and we had learned the painful lessons from Victoria last year.

2020 felt so dark, due to Covid-19, that it almost feels callous to share any positive news that has taken place.

Let me first acknowledge the incredible hardship and challenges businesses have been through for 2020, both locally and globally.

If you are still standing, you deserve all the praise – well done!

There are three parts to this blog:

  • Global non-food stories for 2020
  • Global plant-based highlights for 2020
  • SME plant-based highlights in Australia for 2020

Change is Never Easy

A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. – Plato

If it's hard for a person to change, how much harder is it for a community, a country or the world?

Covid-19 is a massive disrupter – not just in business, but in business as usual.

We also know that for greater sustainability, and equity, the world needed to change.

While Covid-19 impact us all personally, here are some seismic shifts taking place that are positive.

Black Lives Matter shone a light on the dark side of police brutality in the US. This event highlighted the gap that exists in many countries between the black or indigenous population and the majority. Authorities are taking some form of positive action to remedy the situation. Corporates are leading the way by bringing greater diversity in their organisations.


Oil Industries – The petroleum industry has acknowledged that peak oil is likely to happen sooner than initially planned. Companies with oil assets are taking write down in valuation. Shareholders are also challenging petroleum companies o include more significant renewables to mitigate the downside risk.


Electric Car Industry – Elon Musk and Tesla, have uplifted the car industry and oil dependence and shifted this to electric. The UK announced that all their cars would be electric from 2035. Many of the major car manufactures are now accelerating electric vehicles in their range sooner.


Humanity – While the borders are closed, the world of online has brought us all closer together. Working from home allows us greater flexibility to work from anywhere. In Australia, many regional towns have seen immigration of 'tree-change' residents moving in from the city.


Growth of Alternate Proteins & Vegan

As I wrote about in March 2020, Covid-19 has further accelerated everything vegan and plant-based. There was a significant spike in March – July Quarter in the US, with plant-based meat rising in sales of 450% vs 100% for fresh animal meats.

Here are just a few highlights:

  1. Unilever announces that they aim to grow their plant-based meat & dairy sales to 1B Euro by 2027.
  2. McDonald's are adopting a McPlant as a burger to launch in 2021.
  3. Many major food chains adding to their plant-based ranges.
  4. Successful capital raising for many businesses like V2 Food, Fable and Change Foods, and smaller start-up -  Hello Friend Foods.
  5. David Attenborough's film – A Life On Our Planet, which encourages a shift to plant-based.
  6. The rise of fermentation as another form of protein source, alongside cell-based,  plant-based and mycoprotein (mushroom)
  7. Singapore government approving cell-based foods to the public and first restaurant trying it.
  8. Joaquin Phoenix vegan message at the Oscars (remember that?)
  9. China permanently bans the consumption of wild animals. (Fingers crossed it stays that way)
  10. China allowing plant-based eggs to sale due to Covid-19 concerns
  11. Greater public awareness about zoonotic diseases gave further rise of plant-based consumption.
  12. UN World Food Program is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - how do we feed 10 billion people - more plants of course!

SME Success Stories

And finally, YOU, for doing your part to pivot (adapt) & growing your businesses and eco-system in your patch. Here are some examples:

  1. Hello Friends Food Crowd sourced capital during Covid-19.
  2.  Covid-19 allowed Buddha Bowl Café to reassess the whole business. They moved the business to the main street, taking advantage of leasing conditions. 
  3. Addiction Food, a wholesale vegan dessert business, launched into retail shops.
  4. Fable Food adapted from food service to create a consumer packaged goods product and stocked in Woolworths.
  5. Shift Eatery & Smith & Deli migrating to online deliveries to get through the Covid-19 downturn and supporting other businesses.
  6. V2 Food also launched a consumer packaged goods offering and expanded globally.
  7. I Should Be Souvlaki – a market business adapted to having a physical presence & online delivery platform and now deliver regionally and interstate.
  8. During Covid-19, many businesses came together to help and support each other.

What about you? What has been your greatest learning in 2020?

You are in the right space and the right time. If not now, when? If not you, then who?

Wishing you a big 2021!
Bob Ratnarajah

Ps. if you don't know the drivers accelerating a plant-based world, you'll be struggling to keep up. We are holding an event exclusive for SME founders of plant-based business on the 16th of February. This will be for a limited number of businesses only. Here are the details.