With an influx of plant-based products that mimic sausage, bacon, ground meat, tuna, and more, the meat department in the supermarket is now the protein department, declared LuAnn Williams, co-founder at Innova Market Insights, at a Monday morning session on “The Challenge of Meat Alternatives: Stepping Up to the Center of the Plate.”
The drivers for choosing meat substitutes and alternatives have shifted over the past 10 years, said Williams. Cholesterol and heart health issues have been eclipsed by animal welfare. Initially consumed by vegetarians, meat alternatives are a mainstay of flexitarian diets. Today, more consumers are turning to plant-based meats for health, product variety and novelty, and sustainability. It’s also a global phenomenon with consumers in China, Mexico, UK, Germany, and the United States saying they’re eating more meat substitutes and alternatives than they did the previous year, noted Williams.
Burgers dominate the meat alternatives market is the United States while soy protein is king in Asia. Pea protein has seen a 35% increase in new product launches in the past five years. Other plants on the rise in meat substitutes include pulses, beans (including fava beans and mung beans), nuts, rice protein, and spent grains.
In the future, Williams predicts that meat substitutes and alternatives will feature new protein blends, improved texture, enhanced shelf life, and better nutrient profiles.