Plant-based proteins boom: “New category buyers motivated by health, safety and preparation,” says ADM


By Elizabeth Green, Food Ingredients First

15 Sep 2020


The booming interest in alternative proteins is driven both by shifts in buyers’ lifestyles and a deepening awareness of the importance of health and well-being. Consumer curiosity, along with growing concerns surrounding environmental sustainability, is also undoubtedly propelling the plant-based revolution, and ADM is tapping into the shift in demand from consumers, as the trend moves from niche to mainstream. “Demand for plant-based alternatives is fueled by consumers who value the perceived sustainability and health and nutrition benefits,” George Perujo, director of product management for specialty ingredients (EMEAI), tells FoodIngredientsFirst.


“There’s also been a modest uptick in first-time purchases of plant-based proteins with new category buyers motivated by health, safety and ease of preparation. Our OutsideVoice research shows that 80 percent of consumers in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands are likely to continue eating plant-based meat alternatives [post-pandemic].”


While the pandemic's long-term consequences come into sharpened focus, Perujo anticipates that heightened consumer awareness of personal health will continue to influence decisions.


“Category buyers are motivated by the perceived health and safety attributes of plant-based meat alternatives,” notes Perujo.


The growing acceptance of plant-based


Consumer expectations for plant-based products continue to grow and this presents a host of challenges for food producers. From taste and texture to nutritional profile and visual appeal, plant-based products need to deliver an appealing experience to win favor in an increasingly crowded market.


The increasing popularity of alternatives will drive more innovation within the plant-protein category, Perujo maintains. “Growing acceptance in the category signifies that consumers are open to innovation in other plant-based formats and categories.”


As formulators consider innovation opportunities, they must remember a gap remains between what consumers want – great taste – and what is currently available in the category.


“Consumers widely report that nutrition and wellness benefits motivate purchases of plant protein products,” adds Perujo.


ADM’s OutsideVoice research shows that 31 percent of consumers are already purchasing more items tailored for health and nutrition. “However, consumers are unwilling to settle for offerings that fall short of providing an enjoyable eating experience. The key to continued growth in the plant protein space is raising the bar on finished products' sensory aspects,” he stresses.


Emerging growth areas ...


Revolution status? ...