May 22, 2024

Exploring Exotic Flavours: Plant-Based Culinary Adventures around the Globe

A woman enjoying a plant-based meal
A woman enjoying a plant-based meal

With diet-related health issues growing at an alarming rate worldwide, the need for sustainable diets has become far more evident than ever. ‘Plant-based’ diets rose to popularity in the US and UK in the 1970s and later spread worldwide. Rising awareness about environmental issues such as climate change and human health concerns is driving the population towards a vegetarian diet. Plant-based foods have also gained approval among environmental activists because of their lesser impact on the environment in addition to the health benefits they provide compared to animal-based foods. Today, the world has become more conscious towards a sustainable lifestyle that supports the environment and ultimately, the planet.

Consumers around the world are showing more interest in plant-based diets than ever before, creating a huge demand that has given rise to a wave of innovation in plant-based foods. Take a look at the statistics below revealed by studies that support this statement.

  • A study reveals that there is a 302% increase in the newly launched packaged FMCG products with plant-based claims for the period 2018-2022.
  • More than 75% of young people in Germany aged between 16-24 are consuming plant-based foods regularly.
  • The plant-based food market could be worth around USD 160 billion by 2030.
  • In the US, consumers prefer, purchase and consume plant-based foods over animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, seafood, dairy and dairy products.
  • Worldwide, there are more than a thousand plant-based protein manufacturers and 30% are in the US alone.

In this blog, we will look at the different dietary trends in the plant-based foods sector and products that are making news in 2024.

Plant-based beverages (Representative image)

Trends in the Plant-based Industry Ecosystem

A. Change in the food manufacturing ecosystem:

According to the CEO of a plant-based food company, manufacturers must prioritise diversifying their protein product portfolio to meet their sustainability goals since it is assumed that the plant-based foods sector is the only industry that can reach a 100% net zero target.

B. Regenerative Agriculture will be an area of focus:

The Founder & CEO of a consumer research company says that while many brands and products may come up with a lot of claims and supporting stories, traceability and transparency about the climate repercussions of choosing plant-based diets will be key.

C. Growth opportunities outside the restaurant space:

A Senior Analyst of a reputed Packaged Food company says that food service outlets at schools, corporate cafeterias and healthcare facilities are now offering plant-based food choices since they offer more nutritional facilities to a population of broad dietary preferences.

A manufacturing unit producing plant-based food (Representative image)

D. New product innovation:

New products that are plant-based but not exactly a copy of existing products will be worth watching out for in 2024. While companies will continue to focus on natural ingredients closer to plants, technology will also have a role in improving the taste profile of plant-based equivalents. It will be quite interesting to see the capability of AI in producing plant-based analogues that are closer to conventional products in texture and flavour.

Food scientists evaluating different varieties of plant-based meat (Representative image)

E. Fermented and Cultivated Products:

Executive VP at an American Market Research Institute states that 2024 will be a testing year for fermented meat equivalents produced by mixing proteins from plant-based sources such as soy and peas and fermented in a controlled environment using fungi. Though some brands were launched in 2023, slow consumer adoption and high costs have left ample space for plant-based meat to win consumer hearts in 2024.

F. Adaptogens and natural sweeteners in Plant-based meat:

The US retailer Whole Foods Market has observed the growing awareness of adaptogens and expects more food manufacturers to incorporate Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Tulsi, Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane into their food products. Four Sigmatic and Cerebelly are two US companies that are the first ones to incorporate Chaga, Lion’s Mane and Maitake Mushrooms for their neurocognitive, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic properties. Fungi varieties such as Chaga, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps are also used in powder supplements and tea.

The recent study findings by WHO published recently this year citing Aspartame as a possible carcinogen has pushed interest towards plant-based natural sweeteners such as stevia, inulin and oligofructose.

Plant-based milk (Representative image)

Trends in Plant-based Foods and Brands in the news

  1. Plant-based Dairy products: Califia Farm’s new Complete Plant Milk, made with a special blend of pea, chickpea, and fava bean, WhatIf Foods’ BAMnut milk made from Bambara Groundnut, a drought-resilient, generative legume are some new and innovative plant-based milk brands.
  2. Plant-based creamers: More consumers prefer plant-based creamers for their cups of coffee and tea nowadays. Creamers from Oatly and THIS PKN’s pecan-based creamers, Forager Project’s Half-and-Half (made with oats, cashew, coconut cream, and baking soda) and Tindle’s new barista oat milk are some of the notable brands in this category.
  3. Plant-Forward Proteins: OMNI Foods’ new Lion’s Mane Mushroom Steak, Chef Chew’s Kitchen’s tofu-based Fried Chicken, Dr. Praeger’s burgers made from cauliflower and southwest sweet potato, Abbot’s new Whole Burger made with 100% whole food ingredients and natural flavours, mushroom-based strips MyBacon from MyForest Foods, Umaro Foods’ red seaweed-based bacon, and Morinaga Foods’ Mori-Nu tofu are some of the new brands in plant-protein foods category.
  4. Whole Foods: Plant-based whole foods like Canned beans, walnuts, tempeh, legumes and buckwheat are gaining popularity among consumers.
  5. Mushrooms: A popular meat substitute, mushrooms are nutrition-rich and resemble a meaty texture when cooked without the need for excessive processing, making them a hot favourite among plant-based foods.
  6. Functional Foods: Prebiotic sodas like Olipop, Poppi, and Hip Pop are growing popular every day.
  7. Plant-based Seafoods: This is a fast-growing category that saw the birth of Australia-based Boldly in 2023, and food technology company Oshi’s vegan Salmon debut in US restaurants. Revo Foods, a food-tech start-up from Austria launched the world’s first 3D-printed vegan salmon fillet with Promyc, a mycoprotein made from filamentous fungi as the main ingredient. Mind Blown range from The Plant Based Seafood Co. saw an addition to its – shelf-stable vegan scallops, made from ingredients like konjac and wheat protein. Happiee entered the UK market with its range of seafood alternatives such as prawns and squid.
  8. Pasta: This category may well be the most awaited plant-based foods in 2024 since they resemble traditional Pasta but are made from a range of gluten-free ingredients such as plantains, chickpeas, lentils and courgette. Notable brands in this category are Meatless Farm’s plant-based pasta products with vegan fillings, and ZenB’s pasta made completely from yellow peas.
  9. Plant-based Eggs: These are the fastest-growing plant proteins in US restaurants after burgers. While many plant-based egg patties and scrambles have entered the market, efforts are on to create products that match whole eggs. Hard-boiled egg brands such as V-Love The Boiled by Migros, a Switzerland-based company and WunderEggs by US-based Crafty Counter are some of the popular brands.
  10. Meal Kits: These have gained significant popularity these days, owing to their simple cooking process allowing people to cook plant-based meals at home without worrying about extensive meal planning or grocery shopping. Organic subscription service Green Chef and Purple Carrot are two brands that offer healthy plant-based meal kits with recipe cards and organic ingredients.

Conclusion:

From the above market trends, it is quite clear that plant-based foods and diets are here to stay and the craze for them is not going to slow down anytime soon. Though there are a lot of debates and controversies about the nutritional inadequacy of plant-based foods, it is worth noting that plant-based foods have come a long way starting from the early human civilisations to the modern day when several major faiths in the world practice and recommend only vegetarian foods. Hence, if you are a fan of plant-based diets already, or wanting to try them for the first time, this is the best and most exciting time to do it!

Blog by Amith Raj S.

Want to gain more information on plant-based product manufacturers? Then please read:

SimplyV’s New Plant-Based Cream Cheese now Available in Grocery Retail Stores

No Brand Burger launches ‘Better Burger’, a 100% plant-based Burger

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