Consumers are hungry for a plant-based diet
Consumer research from Innova shows that there is no single profile or definition of a customer of plant-based food. Instead of being a singular mass of people, perhaps envisioned as a puritanical and outspoken force of vegetarianism, the reality is that lots of different people are interested in plant-based foods. The evolving demands of consumers is leading to changes in the ways plant-based foods are developed and offered.
Whether they are consumers on a health food kick, fighters for the environment or just folks who are eager to embrace an ethical and sustainable diet, a large range of people are now turning to plant-based foods. In fact, 60% of people globally eat a meat-free meal at least once a week.
Product development is making advances in the plant-based category but not purely in the form of meat and dairy alternatives — sauces, dressings, spreads, prepared meals and snacks are also being developed with plant-based ingredients. While these products do not necessarily serve to replace any particular meat-based items, they still benefit from the advantages offered by plant-based food such as being more sustainable or healthy.
Innova’s research also shows that a hunger for product diversity is driving a change in ingredients. For instance, sustainable and high-protein crops such as legumes and marine plants are increasingly interesting to consumers. Moreover, fermentation technology is allowing for protein production to be found in new sources such as yeast and wood. One company, Air Protein, even says that it can use molecules found in the air, along with water, minerals and proprietary scientific principles, to produce high-protein flour.
Finally, cultured meat, grown from animal cells, can be of interest to ethically and environmentally attuned consumers but those who are purely health conscious may be less enticed by this source of protein. Hence plant-based consumers will continue to hold a strong presence in the market even as other technologically advanced trends emerge.
Plant-based foods will likely continue to grow and expand into new categories and regions as consumers are introduced to more and more options to catch their fancies. Manufacturers and suppliers paying attention to consumer trends and tracking the interests of plant-based consumers will be well equipped to offer foods that are appealing to a growing range of customers.
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