What’s driving consumer demand for plant-based eating and alternative proteins?
When consumers are asked for the reasons why they are considering plant-based alternatives, personal health is still the over-riding answer. However, what changed in 2021 is that the second reason (up from third in 2020) is now “it is better for the planet”. The message is therefore clear: plant-based is seen as healthier for people and the planet.
How are manufacturers addressing these consumer demands?
Manufacturers are approaching nutrition in plant-based substitutes in three ways: inherent nutrition, enhanced nutrition, and superior nutrition. Inherent nutrition gives a “less is more” approach where the health benefits come from the key ingredients. Enhanced nutrition, which is the most mainstream approach, aims at mimicking the animal-based counterpart to provide similar nutritional value. The goal of superior nutrition is to optimize and if possible exceed the nutrition of the animal-based counterpart.
Do manufacturers differ as to their environmental messages?
Yes, plant-based products are being promoted with a very specific sustainable choice or environmental message. Four main areas are cutting water use, protecting ecosystems, reducing waste, and cutting carbon emissions. For example, Impossible spicy sausage claims to use 79% less water than pork-based sausage. Veef plant-based mince is marketed as carbon-neutral. Amazonika Mundi plant-based meatballs are made with cashew fiber, which once was thrown away. Next Milk is made from oats and is marketed as promoting a sustainable ecosystem.
Why are we seeing more blended plant-based foods coming onto the market?
Blending products is an increasingly common innovation as suppliers seek optimum formulations to improve taste and texture, optimize amino acid profiles, and even reduce costs. There are many examples in the market of blended products. Silk Next Milk blends coconut and soy. Hemp Hot Sausage Patties are made from a superfood blend of hemp seed, brown rice and pea protein. The Collective’s plant-based raspberry Greek-style yogurt is made with a blend of oats, coconut and rice.
What are your predictions for the future of this category?
More and more plant-based innovators are targeting indulgence. Between 2018 and 2021 we have noticed a 46% growth globally in launches combining plant-based with indulgent and premium claims. New technologies are a key part of the plant-based category as they are expanding the alternative protein horizon. Two out of five consumers globally state that they are more open to new and innovative plant-based technologies.
1. Innova Trends Survey 2020 and 2021 (average of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US). 2. Innova Trends Survey 2021 (average of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US)