The Evolution of Plant-Based: Eating and Beyond

March 2022

The plant-based trend continues to evolve, moving beyond the obvious manifestations in food to products across apparel, consumer health, beauty and personal care, drinks and even home care. This report examines its spread and what consumers are looking for, showcasing some key examples across the industries which demonstrate how producers are responding to customer interest.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Claims and plans are still increasing, and food does not lead the pack

SKUs with plant-based, vegan and/or vegetarian claims are continuing to increase, with beauty and personal care the leading category ahead of food and beverages (with consumer health next). Moreover, beauty and personal care houses the highest number of industry professionals with plans to develop/launch products carrying these claims in 2022.

Plant-based food is still growing, however

Despite recent noise regarding a slowdown in sales – caused primarily by some companies’ unrealistic forecasts not being met – plant-based continues to grow in retail sales and in foodservice. In the latter case, mass-market launches (such as McDonald’s McPlant range) have the potential to significantly widen the consumer base.

For beverages, plant-based is increasingly synonymous with “not artificial”

Plant-based brands and claims in beverages have come to represent lightly-processed, “natural” ingredients and formulations – an absence of artificial or synthetically derived ingredients. Plant-powered functional beverages and natural, plant-based low-calorie sweeteners are fruitful areas of product development for 2022.

The blurring of fitness and lifestyle is helping in consumer health

OTC drugs and vitamins and dietary supplements have seen double-digit rises in relevant claims. Within consumer health, sports nutrition is seeing the strongest surge in plant-based product development, reflecting the increased blurring between performance-based products for fitness and softer lifestyle options promoted for basic protein supplementation.

Growing interest in plant-based home care runs up against efficacy concerns

Efficacy concerns and commoditisation are restricting the potential of plant-based ingredients. However, a growing percentage of consumers are demanding more sustainable solutions, with natural and organic product credentials gaining in relevance. Probiotics may offer a credible solution in terms of the health vs efficacy battle.

Key findings
Companies are increasingly communicating vegan, vegetarian and plant-based claims
Plant-based grows beyond food and beverages
For food, motivation is primarily linked to health
Beauty and personal care purchase motivations fit plant-based
Case study: Vedix uses AI to create customised plant-based beauty products
Demand for natural fits plant-based apparel profile
Case study: Spiber Inc produces vegan “silk” and “wool” out of “Brewed Protein”
Plant-based packaging works for biodegradable demand
Case study: Footprint rolls out plant-based packaging solutions for supermarkets
The plant-based food industry continues to evolve with strong prospects ahead
A trend spread across the entire food spectrum
Danone focuses on replicating milk’s sensorial experience to overcome the taste challenge
Plantish takes plant-based seafood to the next level through 3D printing technology
Plant-based alternatives reach the mass market through limited-service restaurants
Flexitarianism driving growth of meatless options in limited-service
Full-service restaurants return to in-person dining amid the boom in plant-based foods
Yum! Brands brings plant-based meat alternatives to the masses
London fine dining restaurant Gauthier Soho makes a plant-based post-COVID return
Plant-based claims signify natural ingredients and cleaner labels in beverages
Plant-based, low-calorie alternative sweeteners key to reduced sugar innovation
Herbs, mushrooms and opportunities in plant-powered functional beverages
Athletic Greens: Plant-based nutrition drinks in a convenient concentrate format
Riot Energy: Building a natural energy drink and bringing new consumers to the category
Long-standing and emerging plant-based options in consumer health
Plant-based claims are increasing considerably
VoltaNatura: Power brand leading the reformulation to plant-based in OTC
Orgain Sport: Plant-based having its moment in sports nutrition
Plant-based ingredients increasingly desired across beauty and personal care
Garnier: Mass skin care goes plant-based
Love Beauty and Planet: Telling a brand’s story through plant-based ingredients
Efficacy and commoditisation restrict potential of plant-based ingredients
The broader topic of sustainability is convoluted and its interpretation subjective
EU Green Deal sets out to establish industry legislative standards
New regulations could bring substantial change
Plant-based’s palm oil conundrum: Is the most sustainable crop sustainable enough?
Only a small proportion of palm oil production verified as sustainable
Probiotics offer a credible solution to looming health vs efficacy battle
Beauty and personal care parallels point the way for probiotics
Reckitt first multinational to trial line of probiotic cleaning products
Croda produces 100% bio-based range of surfactants in the US
Plant-powered lifestyles move beyond dietary choices
Food: Challenges and innovation loom – as does non-animal but not plant-based
Foodservice will see further plant-based democratisation and sustainability positioning
Plant-based will increasingly fit beverage consumers’ preferences
Transparency, functionality and sustainability for health and beauty
New solutions needed in home care as plant-based demand will grow
Key takeaways

Staple Foods

NOTE: Couscous, polenta and quinoa are excluded from staple foods.

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