Healthier Alternatives Abound

In recent years, the food and beverage business has been subjected to a discernible paradigm shift. The allure of processed meals that are loaded with artificial additives is dwindling among consumers as they gain a greater understanding of the relationship between the foods they eat and their overall health and well-being. Consumers are increasingly gravitating toward vegan foods because of these considerations.

According to a study by Euromonitor, the proponents of the shift toward plant-based diets are flexitarians. Consumers who strictly adhere to veganism and vegetarianism still make up a small portion of the population, while those who avoid animal-based meals made up more than 40% of all consumers worldwide in 2020. In general, health and animal rights are the two main reasons people choose these diets, but there are regional variations. For example, while more ethical considerations undoubtedly predominate in markets like the UK and Germany, health considerations are equally significant in the US and Australia.

Cost is important for adoption, and this is truer during economic downturns. The COVID-19 epidemic has increased the demand for plant-based foods. Retail sales of products like milk substitutes and meat substitutes have increased dramatically, especially in Western nations. Price is still a major obstacle to acceptance, though, as plant-based products are still more expensive than their animal-based equivalents. Reduced discretionary incomes make it more crucial than ever to close the price gap. In terms of product, vegetarian and vegan claims (or “dairy-free” in the case of dairy substitutes) are significantly more common than the “plant-based” claim in terms of positioning. Plant-based ingredients are seen as more welcoming and alluring by a wider range of consumers; however, combining them with a vegan claim or trademark can increase customer confidence and add transparency regarding the product’s 100% plant-based composition.

The plant-based food business has a promising future thanks to significant innovations in cheese and fish alternatives. In the upcoming years, the plant-based food industry is expected to expand quickly. Numerous manufacturers and ingredient firms are anticipated to continue to develop specialized product categories, such as alternatives for fish or cheese. This has recently been demonstrated by major food companies like Fromageries Bel and Nestlé launching new products in the market. Vegan baked foods and confections are other future-looking industries.

Alternatives Available on All Sub-Categories

According to Dasha Shor, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, innovation in plant-based seafood is accelerating. In recent years, innovation in meat substitutes has mainly concentrated on red and white meat substitutes, whereas seafood substitutes have remained relatively niche. However, the development of seafood made from plants has accelerated recently. Alternatives to fish and shellfish are popular as both major and small businesses produce tuna and lox without using any animals (brined salmon fillet). Consumer interest in fish alternatives is influenced by a number of factors, in addition to the health advantages of a plant-based diet. Fish alternatives can solve ethical and environmental concerns. In addition to overfishing, there are issues with labor abuses (such as peeling shrimp) and environmental contamination, such as microplastics, as well as illnesses that harm communities of farmed fish.

Additionally, fish alternatives give customers more plant-based options. A range of seafood species lends themselves to the development of plant-based substitutes, providing consumers looking to change up their routine of plant-based protein with more diversity. Fish alternatives are available in practical, straightforward cooking forms for customers who aren’t very comfortable cleaning and deboning fresh fish. Future plant-based seafood products may also find a market niche by emulating species like sea urchin, bluefin tuna, sturgeon, or fish roe that are rare, endangered, or more challenging to acquire, clean, and transport.

To read the entire article, please access your complimentary e-copy of Frozen Food Europe July-August, 2022 issue here.

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