Outlook for Plant-Based Foods
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
When it comes to deciding what foods go into shopping carts, factors like health benefits, sustainability and animal welfare are predicted to be increasing consumer purchase drivers. These factors are also what is fueling the evolution of plant-based food development and growth according to Darren Seifer, Executive Director and Industry Analyst-Food Consumption with the NPD Group. This gradual shift and consumer adoption of at least some forms of plant-based food and beverage items is showing some interesting trends that retail dietitians should consider when planning educational programming.
- According to NPD research, 19% of adults say they want more plant-based foods in their diets and about 15% of consumers are regularly using plant-based alternatives such as almond milk, tofu, and veggie burgers. The biggest growth in the consumption of plant-based meat and dairy products are in home, not in restaurants.
- Include family-friendly recipes and meal ideas for home that include plant-based product options. Help shoppers discover different ways to use plant-based products including in pasta dishes, soups/stews, breakfast meals, salads, and ethnic dishes.
- Environmental reasons for choosing meal alternatives decrease with age, but most age groups are equally looking to get more veggies in their diet.
- When talking about a plant-forward eating pattern, highlight the various forms of convenient vegetables products across your stores including fresh, frozen and canned.
- Most plant-based users also consume animal products and 89% of them do not consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. They are seeking new ways to add more plant-based foods to meals, not to eliminate meat.
- Provide tips for including plant-based meat alternatives into some meals along with ideas of combining plant-based foods with meat (i.e.: beans and lean meat or poultry in Mexican dishes or The Blend burger with mushrooms and beef). Avoid using vegan or vegetarian verbiage in your messaging around plant-forward eating patterns.
- Consumers will continue to seek plant-based food and meal options that are convenient and can easily be added to their busy lifestyle.
- The frozen food aisles may be the next frontier for plant-based foods. From pizza to individual frozen meals like Sweet Earth™ and Life Cuisine Meatless Lifestyle, to plant-based meat crumbles, patties and ice cream. There are also many convenient options in center store including pastas, beans and snacks.
- Shoppers are seeking information regarding the health benefits of a plant-forward eating pattern and what specific products to select.
- Share key messages regarding the health benefits of certain foods along with specific recommended products. Pasta, for example, made with the addition of bean flours, contains more protein and fiber.
Overall, it is predicted that the growth of plant-based products will continue to evolve into the future with more options that provide better pricing, unique tastes and a lot of innovation.