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Plant-based food in Australia - statistics & facts

Meat and other animal products play a significant role in the Australian diet and as a major exporter of meat, the Australian red meat industry alone represents around 1.4 percent of Australia’s key industry GDP. While beef and lamb remain traditional staples of the Australian barbeque or Sunday roast, a growing interest in sustainable foods is supporting a trend towards consuming less meat and animal products. As a result, plant-based alternatives to animal products are already showing their potential to disrupt the meat and animal product industry. The consumer base of plant-based alternatives has now expanded beyond tofu, soy milk, and the vegan niche market, now offering diverse alternatives that mimic the taste and texture of animal products in a bid to win over the average meat-eating consumer.

Australians are reducing their meat consumption

  The Australian market appears to be fertile ground for an expanding plant-based food alternative market. Per capita meat consumption has been dropping in recent years and OECD projections suggest that consumption will continue a gradual decline, with the exception of poultry. While poultry consumption is forecast to increase year on year, it is not likely that its rate of increase will be enough to replace the consumption of other meats. To fill this void, optimistic forecasts from the Australian vegan food think tank, Food Frontier, suggest that the plant-based meat sector could export as much as 1.4 billion Australian dollars’ worth of plant-based meat by 2030. In comparison, Australia’s livestock export industry was worth over 25 billion Australian dollars in 2020.

Aside from plant-based meat, plant-based milk is the other major segment of the plant-based foods market and a significant disruptor to the dairy industry. While soy milk has traditionally been the go-to option for plant-based milk, almond milk is encroaching on soy’s dominant market share, going from less than 20 percent of the alternative milk market share in 2015 to more than 40 percent in 2020. While other plant-based milks are still only a small fraction of the alternative milk market, sustainability concerns regarding almond and soy production are attracting more consumers to oat and other nut milks.

Is veganism going mainstream?

  Vegetarian and vegan foods are undoubtedly making their way into the Australian mainstream with more people identifying as vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian. Furthermore, a growing number of restaurants and fast-food outlets are adding vegan options to their menu, which means that vegan food is more accessible than ever. Lord of the Fries, a fast-food chain founded in Melbourne, has an all-vegan menu and Hungry Jacks, Pie Face, and even 7-Eleven are now producing vegan versions of burgers and meat pies. Despite this increasing popularity and availability, the comparative price of plant-based foods tends to be significantly higher. Most plant-based alternative products can cost 50 percent or more than their animal-product counterparts; this price difference is likely to be the next major hurdle for the industry’s expansion into the mainstream.


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