There have been so many new trends in the F&B industry in recent years, and one of those trends is the growing popularity of plant-based foods. Of course, the pandemic has had long-term impacts on how people view their food choices, but several other factors have contributed to the growth of plant-based foods. Here are a few reasons why I think plant-based foods appeal to all kinds of consumers to include them in their diets.
1. Rise of the flexitarian lifestyle
The growth of flexitarian consumers is no longer a surprise in the F&B industry. And now it’s become more than just a trend. This is certainly reflected in the rise of flexitarianism which accounts for nearly 42% of consumers globally. Considering that flexitarianism and plant-based foods go hand in hand, it’s no surprise that this surge has driven the plant-based market to some extent.
One of the reasons plant-based foods appeal to all types of consumers, especially flexitarians, is their taste and flavor. Whether it’s plant-based meat, dairy or seafood, the more these foods are able to mimic their alternatives, the more consumers are drawn to them. Nailing down the taste and flavor aspects helps new flexitarians or vegetarians stay true to their dietary change. Additionally, compromising on the taste and flavor of food is something that consumers are aware of. The more plant-based foods reduce the need for this trade-off, the more successful they might be.
2. Innovative nature of plant-based foods
Innovation in the plant-based industry has paved the way for improvements in plant-based foods. Consumers are now demanding alternatives to meat that are not only healthy but also tasty. But if you’re wondering how plant-based food companies mimic the texture and taste of meat, the answer isn’t simple.
From choosing certain ingredients to trying out various technologies during manufacturing, a lot goes into this mimicry. At its core, it involves using plant-based ingredients like palm or coconut oil to replicate the fat content of meat. The juiciness you feel when you eat a plant-based chicken or beef burger is brought about by the succulence of plant-based ingredients like peas, soy, jackfruit, and mushrooms.
Flavor technology is one of the most complex ways in which plant-based foods taste and smell authentic. For example, the meaty aroma and taste of vegetable meat comes from the Maillard reaction. It is nothing but the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars in food that occurs after heating. So one of the things that plant-based foods
companies have considered cooking techniques to replicate that exact flavor needed. This is where flavor technology comes in. For example, achieving the charcoal-grilled or smoky flavors that replicate meat can be achieved by adding soy sauce or black pepper during cooking.
3. A healthy, high-protein alternative
Speaking of innovation in the plant-based food industry, one of the main reasons people turn to meat alternatives is the protein content of plant-based foods. Besides the meatiness of plant-based foods, they have, to some extent, exceeded consumer expectations in meeting their protein needs. Over the past decade, the plant-based protein category has grown exponentially with high demand for foods like meatless burgers, crab cakes, bacon, and more. MIGHTY FOODS, my latest company, joins the ranks with its own line of tasty protein foods!
These meatless options have proven to be a great alternative to animal protein due to their flavor development and high protein content. No wonder plant-based protein alternatives have made their way into the mainstream market! One interesting thing to note is that the global plant protein market is expected to reach $15.6 billion by 2026 according to Statista. Good news, if you ask me.
4. Plant-based snacking
One of the plant-based food trends that has been gaining momentum in recent years is that of plant-based snacks. Consumers have now realized the nutritional benefits of grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Also, due to health issues, many people have become conscious about their eating habits.
This is where plant-based food companies can entice consumers with healthy snacks. Even the IMF (Food Industry Association) has projected a compound annual growth (CGR) of 8.7% from its current market price of $31.8 million. Without a doubt, plant-based foods like crackers, cookies, chips, etc. are great alternatives for between-meal and late-night snacks. Why get rid of temptation if you can just replace it with something healthy?!
5. Demand for ethical and organic products
It’s no surprise that a sense of responsibility to protect the planet has been the key factor in driving consumers to plant-based foods. Environmental well-being is a top consumer concern and a major factor for people considering including plant-based foods in their diets.
That’s why many food brands try to assure their customers that their products are environmentally friendly. There is a new term for these consumers that has grown in popularity called the “conscious consumer”. These consumers are trying to change their food preferences to have a positive impact on the environment.
All of these factors have pushed consumers to embrace plant-based foods in their diets. Not only is there the nutritional aspect, but the efforts of plant-based food companies to mimic and replicate real meat has certainly given the plant-based industry a boost in the mainstream market. Excited to see how this market continues to grow and thrilled to be part of the journey with MIGHTY FOODS!
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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