Drivers and innovations leading the plant-based food market

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Plant-based food needs to provide value for money if it wants to entice new customers
Plant-based food needs to provide value for money if it wants to entice new customers

Related tags meat-free

Environmental worries still drive plant-based sales, but consumers are becoming more concerned over the value of the products they buy and how close they are to their meat counterparts, according to a new report from Mintel.

Data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database found that consistent growth, the number of new packaged consumer goods launched with a plant-based claim has increased by 302% between 2018 and 2022. Mintel analysts forecast that the market could grow to $160bn by 2030.

Consumer concern over planetary environmental health and human health were the key driving factors behind the plant-based food trend.

However, as purse strings tighten in the face of economic crises, consumers are now more wary about how they spend their money. Where plant-based brands were able to rely on their sustainability credentials in the past, now they must offer value – both in price and increased satiation for consumers.

Value and cost

That being said, consumers have been turning away from meat products due to cost as well, offering plant-based food manufacturers a way to capitalise on the market. In the UK, Mintel found that a fifth of adults said having less money to spend on food and drink would cause them to eat less meat.

To capture the attention of these consumers, Mintel offered a number of solutions for manufacturers looing to stand out in a crowded market.

This included promoting the desirable qualities of the product – such as fruit/veg content and high protein – as well as a diversification of plant-based protein sources. The latter becomes more important when exploring direct replacements for meat products, such as beef burgers.

Analysts at Mintel said the high use of burger substitutes had much to do with their availability and the innovations brands have made in both taste and texture.

Discovering new formats

“Brands can find ways to stay ahead of the competition by elevating new alternative formats to other types of meat products in the way that Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat did with burgers,”​ they added.

Commenting on the next steps for the plant-based food, Mintel noted that plant-based seafood innovations were on the rise, driven once again by ongoing concerns over environmental impacts – specifically fishing.

According to Mintel, 60% of UK meat substitute consumers found plant-based seafood products more appealing having seen negative news coverage of sea fishing. Elsewhere in the world, milk substitutes were top for Brazilian consumer, while plant-based products that tasted more like meat was driving innovation in Thailand.

Meanwhile, consumers are less likely to choose food products that have ‘plant-based’ or ‘vegan’ labels on them​, according to research commissioned by dairy-free cheese brand Julienne Bruno.

Related topics NPD Plant-Based

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