Innova Market Insights explores “powering up” of plant-based arena with hybrid formulas
23 Mar 2021 --- As the plant-based space continues to evolve and branch out, Innova Market Insights details how global markets are also continuing to open up for hybrid formulas made with both animal-based and alternative proteins, driven by expanding consumer preferences for an “extra level of sophistication.”
An Innova Consumer Survey indicates that 36 percent of global consumers would prefer a mix of plant and animal products, while 25 percent would prefer 100 percent plant-based options.
“It has been suggested that there are opportunities for plant and animal protein blends, such as mixing whey and vegetable protein in sports nutrition products; dairy and plant milks for beverages; or meat and vegetable components for burgers, for example,” notes the global market researcher.
New protein sources
Within the “Plant-Forward” Top Trend of this year, the widening range of plant proteins available for formulators to experiment with is clearly evidenced. Fava bean and hemp, in particular, are pegged as the fastest growing proteins tracked in meat and dairy alternative launches globally between 2017 to 2019.
These new protein sources are coming from smaller bases than the more established rice, bean and potato proteins, which also saw ongoing yet modest growth over the period. Meanwhile, industry continues to explore other protein sources including microalgae, volcanic microbes and even thin air.
Innova Market Insights highlights that branding with more specific plant protein claims is booming with terms such as “plant power” more commonly used.
The use of plant-based claims for global food and beverage launches had a CAGR of 37 percent over the 2016 to 2020 period. This compares with 10 percent for vegan positionings and a marginal decline for the more mainstream and established vegetarian category.
Health still dominates plant protein interest
The alternative protein segment has developed strongly from the disruptor status highlighted by Innova Market Insights in its Top Trends for 2017, into 2020’s “Plant-Based Revolution” and this year’s Plant-Forward trend.
“As consumers are powering up on plant protein, opportunities and challenges are attracting even more attention in the industry, particularly with regard to regional preferences and sustainability expectations,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.
“Key challenges for plant-based tend to be similar to those for the food industry as a whole, including the provision of clean label and sustainable options, targeting ingredients simplicity, the use of minimal processing and optimization of taste and textural experiences.”
Innova’s 2020 Consumer Survey indicated that the top four reasons for considering plant-based alternatives were health, variety, sustainability and taste. Health was the clear leader, cited by 53 percent of respondents globally.
Research in 2020 also indicated that six in ten consumers preferred plant-based claims when buying alternatives to meat and/or dairy.
In a previous Special Report, suppliers spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst to highlight the latest rollouts of protein-rich nutritional yeast, algae-based alternative seafood, defatted nut powders, heat-stable whey and sweetness-enhancing “designer proteins.”
Edited by Benjamin Ferrer
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