Plant-Based Ingredients Trends: A State of the Sector Report

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Plant-based diets have been around for decades now, as have other non-animal food-based diets, like the vegan and vegetarian diets, and hybrid options like the flexitarian diet. 

But in recent years, plant-based ingredients and foods seem to no longer need to compete with other lifestyle options for shelf space in supermarkets around the globe.

In fact, the international plant-based food market size is forecasted to grow almost threefold from $11.3 billion in 2023 to $35.9 billion by 2033, states Future Market Insights (FMI). 

This shift from animal products toward plant-based foods appears to be happening everywhere, but why?

Why is Plant-Based Trending?

Plant-based solutions and foods have gained prominence over the past decade for a couple of reasons:

  • Health Considerations

For years, many physicians and registered dietitians have advocated the benefits of eating plants and cutting back on meat consumption, and it seems they are right. Researchers in Denmark have proven that plant-based diets like vegan or vegetarian diets lower the harmful levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood

They pulled together 30 trials with nearly 2400 participants from around the world since 1982 in which scientists gave volunteers a set diet and tracked its impact on their heart health over time. The result showed a downturn in bad cholesterol by 10% and in total cholesterol by 7%.

  • Environmental Impact

In 2022, a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that shifting from animal products to plant-based ingredients and foods like pulses, nuts, fruits, and vegetables could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints substantially, thereby helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

  • Animal Welfare

One of the top motivators for people to switch to a plant-based diet is their concern for animal welfare. This was corroborated by a global poll of over 8,500 people from 104 countries conducted through the Veggly mobile app platform. 

Nine out of 10 respondents stated that harmful industrial farming practices and an appreciation for animal welfare were the main reasons they chose to cut all animal products from their diet. 

  • New Technology

At one time, food manufacturers were worried about what substituting animal ingredients with plant-based ones would do to the quality of their products. 

But now, with the advent of technological innovations, many food ingredient suppliers, like Food Specialities Limited, employ state-of-the-art facilities and equipment and rely on the expertise of food scientists to develop plant-based ingredients that replicate the look, texture, taste, and nutritional profile of their animal-based counterparts.

Where once removing eggs and dairy from pastries and cakes was deemed unthinkable, plant-based bakery products made it possible. Not only that, but by taking cholesterol and saturated fats out of the equation, the result is a more shelf-stable, healthier and sustainable product.

What’s Next for Plant-Based Ingredients Trends?

If you’re wondering what the plant-based protein trends are in 2023, the answer is Clean Label and Organic.

Today’s shopper no longer thinks of plant-based ingredients and foods as novelty items or as one-time purchases. They’re making conscious choices to prioritise their health, the environment and the working conditions under which those products are made.

Plant-Based Meat Trends

According to the 2023 Food Trends report from Datassential, 40% of consumers plan on buying plant-based meat substitutes, with millennials leading the charge at 48%

Textured proteins like peas, soy and fava beans are some of the most competitively priced and best-tasting plant-based meat ingredients on the market, which is why finished goods manufacturers consistently source them for their products.

Plant-Based Seafood Trends

Plant-based seafood is another trend that should be on the radar of food manufacturers in 2023. 

Sparked by consumer concern over the depletion of natural ocean resources and commercial fishing practices, soy-based seafood segments accounted for the largest share of plant-based seafood sales in 2021 and are expected to maintain their position in years to come. 

Plant-Based Dairy Trends

Flexitarians and vegan consumers’ dietary restrictions may drive them to abstain from animal-based dairy products, but that doesn’t mean they must give up their favourite indulgences. And the latest trends in plant-based dairy trends show just that.

As consumers look for the ideal balance of flavour and nutrition and with the rising numbers of lactose intolerance, plant-based milk, delicious dairy-free ice creams, and creamers are becoming go-to choices. 

In 2021, the plant-based milk market was valued at $35 billion, but with the shift towards nut and grain-based milk, like almond, oat, hazelnut, coconut and soy, this number is forecasted to grow to $123.1 billion by 2030.

And what about the trends in plant-based cheese

Once maligned for lacking in taste and texture, now, plant-based cheese is a front-runner in terms of plant-based innovation. 

As opposed to the traditional dairy segment, where the origin of the products is usually animals, the cheese market is seeing products derived from a wide range of plant-based ingredients, such as coconut cream, tapioca starch and soy milk powders that have nearly identical flavours and textures.

Food Specialties Limited: Plant-Based Solutions for 2023 

At Food Specialties Limited, our mission is to add value to our partners with our technical and production expertise, as well as our extensive consumer and market insights. 

We are experts in formulating plant-based solutions for food manufacturers who wish to offer their customers only the best, healthiest and most sustainable ingredient options. 

Contact us today to learn more about our plant-based solutions portfolio.