As consumers increasingly seek plant-based protein ingredients, producers are ever-more interested in plant-based food for health and sustainability; innovation around plant-based protein ingredients is surging. This briefing suggests that, besides the approach of focusing on ingredients, producers also need to consider promoting how existing foods can fit into a plant-based diet and encourage consumers to reduce animal protein by substituting more plant-based food.
Many people are trying to eat more plant-based food for their health and for sustainability reasons. To respond to consumers, producers are investing in developing plant-based protein ingredients to replace animal protein. Examples such as soy and pea have been leaders in meat substitutes and dairy alternatives, but competition to find new ingredients is intensifying.
In order to portray attractive health benefits, food companies are producing high-protein staple foods such as noodles and baked goods. Reducing carbohydrate is an appealing factor to many consumers buying within the staple foods category. Adding more plant-based protein brings innovation to the protein food market; soy noodle, lupin bread, tiger nuts baking mix etc are proving good sources of plant-based protein when making staple foods.
Plant-based ingredients and food are well known as healthy but can still suffer from the perception that they lack attractive tastes. Good ingredients can overcome this hurdle if consumers are comfortable with them; for example, in Asia, tofu is considered as a good option and manufacturers are investing in innovation of tofu formats for snacking options, beyond just the “healthy meal” positioning.
If the purpose of developing plant-based protein ingredients is to reduce the consumption of animal protein (in order to improve health and sustainability), it is also important to promote how existing foods can fit into a plant-based diet rich in protein. Thus, rather than investing in food tech to find out new plant-based protein ingredients, focusing on balanced diets featuring a reduced amount of animal protein and diverse plant-based dishes may be a better approach. Diets such as K-food, the Japanese diet and the Mediterranean diet are giving the same message.
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