Plant-based diets have become more popular, with more people following plant-based diets and using plant-based products for their perceived sustainability benefits or health-promoting objectives. The plant-based sector aims to meet consumer demand for new product variation, with opportunities for standalone products, new formats and technologies, and its latest innovations. Here is what you need to know about the latest global trends in plant-based products.
Plant-Based Market Ever-Expanding
The plant-based sector is responding to consumer demand and experiencing global growth in new product launches. While each global region shows positive growth, Asia has experienced the fastest growth rate of +85% CAGR of food and beverage launches with a plant-based claim between 2018 and 2022. Asia is followed by the Middle East and Africa, as well as Latin America, with growth rates of +62% and +55%, respectively. These product launches are paired with plant-based claims across various categories in Asia, such as plant-based fish, cheese, and sweet baked goods.
Demand for Further Plant-Based Diversity
With a growing consumer base seeking out plant-based food options, there has been an increase in demand for plant-based product variation. When asked if they follow any diet principles, nearly 50% of consumers said they did with 26% of consumers said to be flexitarian or meat-reducing, 17% vegetarian, and 6% vegan. These demands for further diversification cover many categories and occasions, the largest being milk and meat alternatives. As for plant-based claims, poultry substitutes is the fastest-growing subcategory, with a +96% CAGR between 2018 and 2022. Across these categories and occasions, a notable number of consumers said they are interested in seeing more plant-based options on the shelf, including everyday sauces and ready meals to more indulgent chocolate and desserts.
Opportunity for Standalone Products
Originally, plant-based products were intended as direct replacers for animal-derived products, such as meat and dairy. However, meat substitutes have been shown not necessarily to be first-choice meat replacers. Plants in their more natural state are already among the most consumed alternatives to meat. 29% of consumers noted that when they directly replace meat with a plant-based alternative, vegetables are their first choice, followed by the 21% opting for legumes. When ranked among the most picked direct meat replacers, plant-based meat alternatives ranked only ninth. This reveals an opportunity for plant-based products to create their own identity as a standalone sector.
44% of consumers want to see improved flavor in plant-based products. New technologies help innovation bring nutrition and taste together. Fermentation has shown to benefit plant-based trends among categories like non-dairy cheese and chocolate confectionery. To illustrate this process, chocolate company Planet A Foods uses fermentation to create 100% cocoa-free chocolate.
Innovation in cell-based technology has allowed for innovation beyond meat. These cell-based technologies include plant and algae-sourced scaffolding and 3D-printed scaffolding to cultivate meat alternatives.
Latest Innovations in Plant-Based
Aside from cell-based technology, microalgae technology is also revealing itself as a potential candidate for alternative proteins. Microalgae, found in freshwater and marine environments, can be grown efficiently in bioreactors, and processed to create highly nutritious, protein-packed food products.
As plant-based diets become increasingly popular, the plant-based category is solidifying its position in the food and beverage industry. Expect to see companies expanding and diversifying their product range, potentially including standalone products. New technologies such as precision fermentation, cell-based and microalgae technology will also offer different pathways to create plant-based alternatives that will meet consumer demand for improved taste and more plant-based options on the shelf.
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This article is based on our report, “New Product Trendspotting: Latest Global Trends in Plant-Based.”
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