New Zealand / Press Releases
Rising Veganism Threatens NZ’s Meat and Dairy Industries

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by James Caldwell
Apr 02 2019

Sales of vegan food products have soared over the past five years in New Zealand, with major food manufacturers increasingly innovating to introduce new products to keep up with demand. However, as the cost of meat and international meat exports continue to rise, this surging demand of vegan products represent a growing threat to New Zealand’s meat and dairy industries. 


Vegan food manufacturing soaring

According to IBISWorld research, the demand for plant-based products has surged in recent years, with food manufacturers in New Zealand constantly having to introduce new products to keep up. 

“The quality of these products is also increasing at a rapid pace, with high-end vegan alternatives to meat and dairy foods continuously being launched. Last month, for example, Unilever launched a vegan alternative to its Magnum ice cream products, which has already received a lot of attention locally,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst James Caldwell.  


Rising cost of meat in New Zealand increasing the demand for plant-based products

The price of meat and dairy products in New Zealand has strongly increased over the past decade, limiting local consumer demand for these products. This lack of domestic demand has also forced many producers to turn to overseas markets to sell their products in order to sustain growth. 

“The rising cost of meat in New Zealand has encouraged an increase in demand for plant-based foods, which have become increasingly price-competitive with meat and dairy products,” said Mr Caldwell.   


Rising health consciousness driving New Zealanders to go vegan

Shifting consumer preferences towards healthier eating have limited demand for some high-fat products such as red meat and full-cream milk. 

“As obesity rates continue to rise among New Zealanders, low-fat dairy alternatives are becoming more attractive to increasingly health conscious consumers. In addition, as the quality of milk and cheese alternatives improves, the higher the demand will be for these vegan products,” said Mr Caldwell. 

Meat consumption per capita has also declined over the past decade due to health organisations increasingly publicising its negative health effects. 

Mr Caldwell elaborated, “For example, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) classifies processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogenic, placing it alongside asbestos and tobacco. In addition, the American Cancer Society recommends cancer survivors should follow plant-based diets.”


Environmental awareness affecting meat consumption

According to IBISWorld, New Zealanders are increasingly concerned about their effects on the environment, which has spurred on the rising demand for vegan products. 

“A series of organisations have deemed the agricultural industry as having a significant impact on the environment in recent years, particularly the dairy and meet industries,” said Mr Caldwell.

Mr Caldwell also said, “Such organisations have conducted various studies on the subject, including a 2017 report by GRAIN which found that the world’s three largest meat firms produced more emissions in 2016 than the whole of France, as well as the UN’s Priority, Product and Materials report, which found that both meat and dairy require more resources in terms of land and water, and produce more emissions than plant-based alternatives.”


Ethical dilemmas weighing on New Zealanders

Recent news reports and high-profile documentaries about claims of cruelty towards livestock, like Dominion, have also discouraged a number of New Zealanders from consuming animal products.  

Mr Caldwell said, “Many New Zealanders initially believed animal welfare standards in their country were high, and that animals raised by the meat and dairy industries were well treated. However, these documentaries and news investigations were created to shock consumers and make them second-think about eating meat and dairy.”

“This has intensified the demand for plant-based or cruelty-free food products, and has presented a rising threat to the Meat Processing, Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming, Cheese, Butter and Milk Powder Manufacturing and the Milk and Cream Processing industries,” said Mr Caldwell.   


The future of New Zealand’s meat and dairy industry

Mr Caldwell projects that the number of people following a vegan diet in New Zealand will likely rise over the next five years, and as a result will increasingly threaten New Zealand’s meat and dairy industries.

Mr Caldwell said, “As demand for vegan products increase, food manufacturers will increase their range and quality of plant-based foods, which will likely drive consumers further away from meat and dairy products.” 

“While exports of meat and dairy products will help the meat and dairy industries in New Zealand stay afloat, they will still face challenges ahead locally if this trend continues to gain traction and prices continue to increase,” said Mr Caldwell.  


IBISWorld Industry Reports mentioned in this release:

Meat Processing in New Zealand

Beef Cattle Farming in New Zealand

Cheese, Butter and Milk Powder Manufacturing in New Zealand

Milk and Cream Processing in New Zealand


For more information, to obtain industry reports, or arrange an interview with an analyst, please contact:

Kim Do

Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: (03) 9906 3641 Mobile: 0422 773 995