The growing trend of vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets is undeniable.
In fact, low-meat diets are now the most popular daily diet in the world.
While plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity, many consumers are still looking for familiar, nutritious foods and beverages to fill their plates. Growing consumer awareness about the health benefits of protein and the drawbacks of meat have consumers hungry for proteinaceous meat-replacers. These seemingly conflicting demands have led the plant-based protein market size to grow faster than ever.
While consumer perceptions of alternative proteins continue to evolve quickly, for food product producers, understanding why consumers are looking for a change is the key to creating products that eaters will find enticing to try and that will have the staying power of beloved comfort foods.
54% of consumers surveyed agree that alternative meat products should taste like meat (Mintel, 2019)
19% say novelty, from new and foreign flavors, unusual textures, novel ingredients, or meat-plant blends, were a drive (Innova Insights, US, 2018)
Meat analogues are often seen by flexitarians as “gateways” to a healthier lifestyle of reduced meat consumption, allowing them to keep something familiar in the center of their plate. 79% of millenials in North America in 2018 said they eat meat substitutes, and while meat and dairy alternatives continue to be an intriguing option for consumers craving novelty, research shows that the top three reasons consumers buy alternative protein food products, including cheese and meat analogues are: health, variety and taste. (Innova Insights, 2019).
Though other factors; including clean labels and natural ingredients (41%), protein content, health and other claims are also important to consumers, foods and beverages that taste good, and match consumer expectations, are the most popular among consumers.
The carbon footprint of food products is another key concern for consumers. 18% of U.S. consumers report that their decision to buy meat and dairy alternatives is driven by sustainability issues, and 55% of U.S. consumers consider waste and pollution to be their biggest environmental concerns. (Innova Insights, US, 2018)
18% of US consumers say their decision to buy meat and dairy alternatives is driven by sustainability concerns
55% of US consumers see waste and pollution as their biggest environmental concerns
71% of Spanish consumers say they’re increasingly incorporating plant ingredients into their diets
64% of US consumers report that protein has quite a bit or a lot of influence on their purchasing decision
Consumers look for sustainable, nutritionally balanced, and delicious foods and beverages. Growth of ethical and environmental motivations to eat more plant-based products is a challenge for manufacturers who must innovate and formulate with alternative protein sources without bringing undesirable flavor notes.
71% of Spanish consumers, for example, say they’re increasingly incorporating plant ingredients into their diets. 64% of US consumers report that protein has quite a bit or a lot of influence on their purchasing decision.
These health-conscious consumers are cognizant of the drawbacks of meat consumption, but they’re still looking for ways to add more, high-quality proteins to their diets.
A huge range of products; from meat and dairy analogues to alternative protein snacks, and even high protein ready meals are emerging to meet the demand for foods that respond to these consumer needs.
The formulators’ main challenge is to meet consumers’ expectations while maintaining the taste, texture and overall appearance of the products they are used to. 54% of consumers surveyed agree that alternative meats should taste like meat (Mintel, Plant-based proteins, May 2019).
But there is indication across the spectrum of alternative meat-eaters that while some are looking for an easy transition from animal protein to alternatives, others are looking for a completely different product with a unique flavor. 37% of U.S. consumers report that a desire for diet variety guides their exploration into plant-based food and beverages.
The key to appealing to all these consumer segments is finding a protein-rich ingredient that will lack the troublesome off notes that make many plant and animal proteins hard to ignore, giving you the essential blank slate needed to craft the food of the future.
Gluten intolerance and Celiac’s disease are on the rise globally, and even consumers without a diagnosed allergy have begun to avoid gluten products. Soy and nut allergies are also common around the world, eliminating access to many alternative protein foods to millions of potential eaters.
Concerns about product processing are another major turnoff for consumers, particularly those interested in plant-based products. Many consumers associate processing with being unnatural (GlobalData, 2017).
As the alternative foods space continues to explode, the automatic ‘health halo’ these products have enjoyed will become even more scrutinized, and products with natural ingredients, clean labels, and great flavors will likely come out on top.
Nutritional Profile and Composition:
66% of consumers say they’re worried they’re not getting enough protein. Whether your product is aimed at the most committed vegans or the experimenting flexitarian, a key consideration is ensuring that your meat or dairy alternative offers high levels of high quality protein.
Flavor, Image, and Consumer Perception:
Not all ingredients are created equal. While some ingredients impart a sense of naturalness and health, others inspire skepticism and distrust, whether or not it’s deserved.
Supply and Sustainability:
While consumers are becoming increasingly willing to pay more for environmentally ethical products, the size of your protein’s carbon footprint is only half the equation. Agricultural crops are subject to weather, dramatic price swings, and other irregular conditions, and understanding how changes in supply could affect your manufacturing system is important.
Yeast are single-celled fungi. Related to edible mushrooms and the common baker’s yeast that has been used to leaven bread or to brew beers for thousands of years, the process of fermentation also turns yeast cells into one of the most revolutionary protein sources in the world.
Yeast protein is a premier ingredient, boasting the absence of troublesome off-notes, including “cardboard”, beany, or earthy flavors, that are common among plant proteins. Yeast, in its natural state 49% protein, 40% carbohydrates, 7% minerals, and 4% lipids, and offers a balanced amino acid profile with high lysine and BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) content. Yeast protein is highly digestible, with a PDCAAS score of 1 (the highest possible score) and a digestibility score of DIAAS= 1.02 . Yeast’s naturally complete proteins help formulators to increase protein content of their products.
Nutritional Profile and Composition: Complete protein with a high digestibility.
Flavor, Image, and Consumer Perception: No off-notes flavors, minimal color impact, good consumer image, perceived as a good source of protein, minimally processed, vegetarian and vegan-friendly, and kosher and halal certified.
Supply and Sustainability: Environmentally sustainable protein source, not dependent on harvest or seasonality, with little exposure to major shortages or price swings.
Whether you’re formulating a savory snack that keeps eaters happy, a gluten-free pasta that helps a Celiac’s suffer reclaim a favorite dish, or a meat analogue patty, there is an ever growing list of protein sources that can seem overwhelming to track.
The good news is, protein sources that you’re familiar with are also the sources your customers will be more likely to know and feel comfortable with. When in doubt, go with what you know, and let your audience be your guide.
Based on more than a century of expertise in yeast and yeast ingredients, Biospringer launches Springer Proteissimo™ 101, a revolutionary solution for formulators who are searching for a versatile protein for their substitute meat, dairy products and cereals. Springer Proteissimo™ 101 lacks the troublesome off-notes, including “cardboard”, beany, or earthy flavors, that are common among plant proteins, making it a premier alternative source.
Standing out among it’s plant-based competitors, yeast protein is also gluten free, and non-GMO making it more accessible for millions of consumers worldwide.
In fact, Springer Proteissimo™ 101 has neutral flavor on its own, so whether you’re developing a creamy cheese analogue, a hardy plant-based sausage, or a high protein snack, it is a valuable tool for building good flavor and a distinct sensory profile. Plus, depending on the end-product, yeast protein can be added up to 3-20%.