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Plant Based Foods Association introduces new certification label for meat, dairy alternatives

"Certified Plant Based" is designed to boost consumer confidence in plant-based products.

Adding to the suite of certification seals now available for brands to better communicate what’s inside their products comes Certified Plant Based, designed for plant-based alternatives to traditionally animal-based foods such as milk, eggs, meat, cheese and seafood.

Launched by the Plant Based Foods Association, an organization comprised of stakeholders working to promote plant-based eating through retail partnerships, manufacturer support and legislation advocacy, the idea, says Executive Director Michele Simon, is to secure consumer confidence in plant-based products. “The launch of the Certified Plant Based seal is an exciting next step for the fast-growing and innovative plant-based foods industry,” says Simon in a statement.

In recent years, sales of plant-based products have experienced meteoric growth. Product innovation from pioneering manufacturers such as Beyond Meat, Just (formerly Hampton Creek), Impossible Foods and more have made meat, egg and dairy replacements palatable and approachable to a larger demographic group. While such products are suitable for dedicated vegans, they’re also designed to appeal to people who are just starting to dabble in plant-based eating through superior taste, texture, appearance and ease of cooking. One might call them products for the "plant-curious."

A recent SPINS report found that the meat and dairy alternative category amounts to $4.1 billion annually, with the majority of that dollar volume coming from conventional multi-outlet channels, suggesting that shoppers from all walks of life are understanding how eating plants can mitigate environmental damage, improve health and stop animal suffering. A 2017 Nielsen survey confirmed that 39 percent of Americans are generally trying to eat more plant-based foods.

The Plant Based Foods Association’s Certified Plant Based seal differs from the pre-existing Certified Vegan seal, managed by a 501(c)3 called Vegan Action, in that it’s only available for plant-based foods that are intended to replace animal-based products such as meat, egg and dairy alternatives. Something like a tortilla chip would not be eligible, regardless if it’s vegan. Plus, Certified Plant-Based products are verified by NSF International, a long-respected industry certifier.

“Plant-based food sales are growing rapidly,” said Steve Taormina, manager for NSF International’s Consumer Values Verified Program in a statement. “The best way for consumers to navigate the marketplace and make confident purchasing decisions is to look for independent certification of the plant-based claim.”

Cultured meat and other pioneering animal-free meat, dairy and egg products will not be qualified to use the certification.­

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