Fads come and go, but it’s the enduring trends that become the driving force behind a company’s growth strategy.
In the food and beverage industry, it’s undeniable the seismic shift the market has experienced with the plant-based food trend. Advances in product development along with shifting consumer beliefs, needs, and eating habits have moved a market that was once considered niche into the mainstream.
And while the movement towards plant-based eating is well on its way, there is still tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this trend.
But charting a path to success in the plant-based health market is not simple. It calls for a keen understanding of consumer insights, savvy product development, strategic supply chain management, robust manufacturing, and more.
Plant-based products have been around for a long time but, until recently, they catered to a very niche market. Yesterday’s meat-free, dairy-free options were aimed at vegetarians or vegans.
That’s not the case anymore. Research shows that consumers of all ages want to include more plants in what they eat and drink, so are gravitating towards a plant-based diet (forming a consumer group sometimes referred to as ‘flexitarians’).
And while an exact definition of what a plant-based diet entails is elusive, the motivations behind this movement are clear.
Research reveals that self-described plant-based consumers are strongly motivated by health, wellness and feeling better.
This could mean weight management, improving digestive wellbeing, reducing potential diseases or seeking ways to boost their energy. All can be helped by the increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables that come with a plant-based diet.
For most consumers in the plant-based market this isn’t about replacing meat or dairy entirely, it’s more about increasing their consumption of plants sources. But this raises an interesting challenge:
When rebalancing animal and plant-based proteins, it can prove difficult to get the amount of high-quality protein needed from legumes, nuts, and other plant sources of protein.
As a result, protein quality and nutrition are becoming key considerations when formulating plant-based products that meet the taste, texture and nutritional needs consumers expect.
For the plant-based beverage and dairy alternative market, digestive comfort is another significant driver. Lactose-free products met the initial needs and drove the uptake of dairy alternatives options but the market has now evolved to even more plant-based options for consumers to achieve more gut comfort (reducing the risk of bloating) and well-being.
Consumers (especially of the younger generation) are increasingly becoming food explorers, actively seeking out variety and creativity in their foods and beverage options. This is an enormous opportunity for food and drink brands but requires the industry to innovate and deliver plant-based foods that are interesting, innovative, convenient, and have a fantastic taste.
At the moment we’re at the peak of a “you won’t believe it’s not X” plant-based trend. But all signs point towards that coming to an end, and soon. Tomorrow’s hit products will go far beyond imitating meat and dairy.
Environmental, sustainable and ethical considerations are strong motivations for consuming plant-based food and beverages. Sustainability is a vast subject covering everything from the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry to how shelf-life affects food waste.
Not all of the issues will resonate with all consumers equally. By increasing the level of sustainability of plant-based food, it’s possible to deliver on the drivers that matter most for a number of consumers.
For a deeper dive into sustainability as a driver in the food and beverage industry, head over to the sustainability theme page.
While not a motivator for consumers to choose plant-based, taste and texture are critical success factors that need to be achieved to satisfy the food explorer, build a loyal plant-based consumer and make plant-based alternatives a regular part of their everyday diet.
This means that companies making plant-based products must master taste and texture as well as cater to the other drivers in order for the product to deliver long term success in the plant-based market.
To answer to the strong trend and demand for plant-based food, we have created Danisco PlanitTM, our integrated offering of ingredients and services for the plant-based food and beverage segment, providing you with innovative plant-based solutions that keep you ahead of consumer demand.
We invite you to leverage our years of expertise in ingredients, formulation, and manufacturing to create the exceptional plant-based innovative products of today and tomorrow.
Dive into the links below to discover more about Danisco PlanitTM and get insights into key segments and solutions to help you succeed!