Unlocking Plant-Based Opportunities In The ‘New Norm’
Thursday, September 3rd, 2020
While consumers are drawn to plant-based proteins for their nutritional benefits, taste and texture also matters for a great eating experience. Contributed by ADM.
It’s an exciting time for Asia’s meat alternative industry. In recent years, the region has witnessed an increase in the growth of primarily plant-based meat alternatives in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. According to ADM’s consumer research study in Southeast Asia, this surge could be due to a variety of factors, including the potential health benefits derived from a meat-free diet, consumers’ conscious intention of reducing their impact on the planet, as well as the good taste of plant protein sources.
Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of health & wellness. This pandemic has accelerated the growth of consumers’ interest in plant-based meat alternatives. Sales of plant-based meat substitutes has risen 264 percent over a nine-week period ending 2 May 2020, according to consumer data group, Nielsen. Likewise, Mintel also reported a 39 percent increase in the launches of meat substitute products when comparing periods Jan -April 2019 and Jan – April 2020.
“The growth of plant-based meat alternatives is expected to grow as consumers seek to explore and make healthier food choices in the ‘new norm’,” says ADM’s Senior Marketing Manager for Southeast Asia, Sarah Lim.
Plant-Based Protein: An Important Protein Source
Covid-19 will undeniably change consumers’ attitudes and behaviours—as a result, they are more likely to be receptive to clean sources of protein. Consumers are also ever more likely to be more receptive to the ‘clean’ meat propositions that plant-based alternatives can offer. This food category sets a baseline security for traceability, health, safety, sustainability, value and trust.
Protein has always been a necessary nutritional building block for consumers. With awareness and education on the rise in the media, manufacturers should consider it a priority to make protein products more accessible to consumers. These products should be considered on-trend, innovative and nutritious—three aspects that consumers actively seek.
Nutrition Matters, But Taste Rules
Studies have also revealed that while consumers are drawn to plant-based proteins for their nutritional benefits, they won’t fully incorporate products into their repertoires if they don’t deliver on taste and texture. This is the year to expect more products to be formulated with purposeful combinations of plant-based proteins—such as soy or pea combined with beans, seeds or ancient grains—to deliver the taste, nutrition and texture that consumers demand. While formulating with the right proteins is a must in 2020, exceptional flavour will be driven by true culinary expertise.
Innovative Comforting Selection
Burgers led the plant-based protein craze in 2019, but in the coming year, localisation is key. New formats taking inspirations from Asian cuisines are emerging. These can range from dim sum-style meat-free delights, to the different methods of cooking: braised, sauced, or stewed. Because taste matters, the key to success with these new products is achieving a flavour and texture similar to their animal-based inspirations. As in-home dining experiences take centre stage during the pandemic, the new norm is anticipated to see consumers preparing meals at home and seeking the comfort of familiar taste experiences.
Looking To The Future
Savvy consumers are questioning what’s on the label, and they value health and nutrition with convenience. Consumers are also starting to seek out plant-based meat alternatives that are safe to reduce exposure to animal-related health incidents and create a healthy & sustainable food system. Manufacturers must prioritise simplifying their labels, and in some cases, look to add other functional, health and wellness benefits to plant-based foods and beverages to unlock new opportunities in the ‘new norm’ for a wholesome eating experience.
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