Projects Funded for Stamatina Kotsakou


Demand for Plant-Based Products: Implications for California Agriculture and Agribusiness

Richard Sexton and Stamatina Kotsakou


Proposed Objectives of the Project:
The objective of this project is to improve our understanding of the demand for plant-based alternatives and their competing relationship with conventional animal products including (i) growth over time in this segment, (ii) substitution patterns between animal products and their plant-based analogues, (iii) importance of price, availability, variety, and store location as drivers of demand for these products, (iv) socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of consumers of plant-based products, and (v) implications of the plant-based foods movement for California agriculture.

The aforementioned original objectives of the project have been pursued. An additional objective added as the research has unfolded is to understand the role that plant-based alternatives to traditional meats and dairy may play in global food production needs in the 21st Century. More specifically, to understand the extent to which plant-based food production can be an answer to the inefficient calorie conversion of grain and other inputs into human foods from animals. Growth of the plant-based sector may represent a market-based approach to reduce traditional meat and dairy consumption without coercive means such as meat taxes or taxes on emissions from livestock production.

Summary of Results:
This work comprises the dissertation research of Stamatina Kotsakou and is still an in-progress work with an estimated completion date of September 2023. The work involves extensive analysis of IRI data, both from the consumer panel and from retail scanner data from 2012 – 2021 using a mixed logit estimation framework with a control-function approach to address endogeneity. Results suggest that, despite the growth of household expenditures over time for plant-based substitutes, the demand for meat has not declined. Some evidence suggests that plant-based alternatives may in fact act as complements to traditional meats in the sense that a household with a vegetarian or vegan member may maintain its meat consumption and complement it with a convenient alternative for the non-meat eater.