15 Sep 2020 — Industry is taking up the challenge to deliver an increased amount, and a greater variety, of clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles, according to Innova Market Insights.

Interest in plant-based eating has been developing for some time, moving from its disruptor status highlighted by Innova Market Insights in its Top Trends for 2017 to more of a “food revolution” positioning in its Top Trends for 2020.  

Innova’s Plant-Based Revolution theme profiles this development as plant-based innovation in foods, beverages and ingredients continues to flourish due to consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics. This also ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living.  

Category growth: Retail and fast food
Plant-based claims for F&B launches are experiencing strong growth globally with a CAGR of 57 percent over the 2015 to 2019 period, compared with 13 percent for vegetarian claims and 22 percent for vegan positionings. 

Meanwhile, a recent Innova Market Insights Consumer Survey indicated that 58 percent of global consumers prefer plant-based claims when buying meat and/or dairy alternatives.

Fast food restaurants have contributed to this transformation, adding plant-based meat sandwiches, such as Impossible Foods Impossible Burger and Beyond Meats’ Beyond Burger, to their menus and making them mainstream news. 

Retail brands launched in the wake of this include Raised and Rooted from Tyson Foods and the Incogmeato, a line of meat alternatives from Kellogg’s Morningstar operation.

At the same time, major dairy brands are also going non-dairy, with launches such as Chobani Oat oat-based milks and yogurts from the US Greek yogurt specialist and plant-based soy variants in Danone’s Activia probiotic range.

Critical challenges for plant-based include providing clean label and sustainable options, targeting ingredient simplicity and the use of minimal processing and optimization of taste and textural experiences. Ingredient simplicity and minimal processing are particularly important to consumers, achieved via the absence of artificial components and just a few simple plant-based ingredients.

Click to EnlargePlant-based innovation in F&B products continues to flourish due to consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics.Looking forward, a variety of alternatives is expected to disrupt the segment further using a wider variety of ingredients. It has also been suggested that there are opportunities for plant and animal protein blends, mixing whey and vegetable protein in sports nutrition products, for example, or dairy and plant milks for beverages, or meat and vegetable components for burgers. 

A 2019 Innova Market Insights Consumer Survey indicated that 35 percent of consumers would prefer a mix of plant and animal products, while 22 percent would prefer 100 percent plant-based options.

Laboratory-grown foods are also a possible way forward for more sustainable farming, with the term “labriculture” entering popular terminology about slaughter-free cellular agriculture technologies, cited as an avenue for sustainable meat consumption. 

Dairy proteins produced through fermentation, rather than by cows, are also starting to appear, while the potential for air-based foods, made from air and electricity, is also under investigation.

On September 23, 2020, at 4pm CEST/ 10am EDT, Tom Vierhile, vice president for strategic insights at Innova Market Insights, will present a webinar titled: “The Plant-Based Revolution.” In the session, Vierhile will highlight the key drivers and barriers surrounding plant-based products, including essential benefits and claims on the market. 

You can register for the webinar here.

Edited by Elizabeth Green

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The plant-based revolution marches on

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