Innova Market Insights conducts a perceptive seminar on the plant-based trends at ANUTEC 2022

Plant-based: A Canvas for Innovation- Insights on the present and future trends in the ever-evolving plant-based foods sector on the topic
Padmaja P.B., research analyst  at the seminar
Padmaja P.B., research analyst at the seminar

World over, the interest in sustainability and planet health has been on the rise for quite some time now. There is a new consciousness among consumers for taking personal control of what they purchase. Shifting to plant-based substitutes is one such step that gives a ‘clean food’ feel to the ones actively adopting them in their lifestyle, while also intriguing the ones thinking or reading about it in the media.

With the goal of spreading awareness on this pertinent topic, ANUTEC-International FoodTec India 2022 organized a seminar by Innova Market Insights on 15 September focusing on the topic- Plant-based : A Canvas for Innovation. The seminar was delivered by Padmaja P.B., research analyst who enlightened the audience by citing results from various surveys conducted by Innova Market Insights to get a deeper understanding of this rising sector.

The well-researched talk commenced with P.B talking about the need for a sustainable future in times of wars, forest fires, and climate change. Through the means of a detailed presentation on the topic, P.B talked about the five macro drivers shaping food and beverage trends, which included-

Mega trends – Uncertainty and volatility, Sustainable future, and Pursuit of health and happiness

Consumer trends- Flexible lives and Feel good consumer

She talked about how the pursuit of health and happiness among consumers has gained more importance after the pandemic. She also shared, “In terms of consumer trends, we have seen that consumers like flexible lives because they've been shown that they can have the flexibility of working from anywhere in the world from their homes, with their loved ones. And most importantly, we have seen that the feel-good consumer is a very important trend because no more is health to do just with your physical or mental health but it's a holistic view of well-being.”

She continued, “When consumers are purchasing food and beverage, they want to know if they're contributing to the sustainable development that's happening around them. Out of the top 10 global trends that we have tracked, the feel-good consumer and the sustainable future actually point towards plant-based substitutes, which is the canvas for innovation.”

What's shaping the canvas in terms of plant-based substitutes?

According to the Innova Meat, Dairy and Alternative Proteins Survey India, 2022, nutrition and health benefits play a bigger role as brands refine the next generation of plant-based foods.

Talking about the survey results, she shared, “When we asked the consumers what are they looking at when they are purchasing plant-based substitute products, 55% of the consumers said that they consume plant-based products if the nutritional content is the same as the animal-based products, while over 60% of the consumers already pay more for plant-based alternatives if they came with additional health benefits as compared to animal-based products.”

P.B said explained that nutrition in plant-based substitutes can be approached by two methods. One is Enhanced Nutrition where the nutrition of the plant-based products is enhanced in a way that it mimics that of the animal-based products. For instance, Tata has launched the chicken which they claim is nutritionally similar to the animal-based chicken and is similar in terms of taste in texture.

The second option is to look at Superior Nutrition. She elaborated, “When you want to make your consumers pay more for your plant-based products, you can look at enhancing and giving them more value compared to their animal counterparts. That is what So Good is doing in terms of their soy milk where they claim that it supports immunity and it's fortified with vitamins. It has much more health claims compared to its dairy counterparts.”

“Health” includes a healthy planet

P.B believes that health is no longer defined by human beings’ health. Citing a consumer survey conducted by Innova Market Insights, she says, “When we looked at our consumer survey, we noticed that from 2020 to 2021, the importance that consumers were giving to the health of the planet has gone up and become the first priority issue for consumers.” She gave an example of Evo Foods, which talks about how plant-based foods are more planet friendly.

Around the globe

At a global level, promoting sustainable choices while catering to local tastes is being focused upon. P.B said that upcycle food is gaining importance now. Some examples cited by her included –

·      Renewal Mill has partnered with Miyoko’s Creamery to produce climate-friendly, gluten-free and vegan cookies made from Okara, a waste produced after soybean production.

·      Benecol uses Finnish oats and reduces carbon emissions due to a shorter supply chain

·      Mundi meatballs made from cashew fiber that is usually discarded

New technologies shaping the canvas of plant-based

Talking about the latest developments in the field, P.B said that BVeg, in collaboration with Buhler, has developed high moisture extrusion technology (HME) to retain the juiciness in plant-based meat substitutes as well as protein aeration technology to get a texture and softness mimicking the animal-based meat. HME solves a lot of issues such as the hardness and rubbery nature of plant-based meat substitutes, which consumers don’t prefer.

Shedding light on the plant-based dairy substitutes, she said, “There are a lot of suppliers who are actually going to alternate protein sources like black-eyed protein concentrate and plant-based egg powder mix using mung bean protein concentrate. These help you mimic dairy and don't the off notes that are generally the issue with ingredients like soy flour. A lot of these are indigenous to India. So, it's easier to actually reach the consumer with these alternative protein sources rather than the existing soy or more expensive almond oats variants.”

She also revealed that based on Innova Market surveys, it was found that consumers are eager to try plant-based treats such as yogurt, kulfi, baked goods, and chocolates. One such example is the plant-based kulfi by Urban Platter made from cashew milk.

Concerns about food safety

P.B said that according to surveys, it was observed that the concern in consumers’ minds is not just about the packaging or hygiene, but also the use of new ingredients that they are not aware of, which makes them think that it is not safe. She adds, “This is why food safety is right there on top for consumers in India and which is keeping them from purchasing plant-based alternatives.”

As a solution to this, she recommends using indigenous ingredients in plant-based substitutes. She gives an example and says, “Alt Milk has used millet which is local to India and sprouted it and talks about how sprouting has been a part of the Indian culture for a long time. It aids digestion and increases the bioavailability of nutrients. They speak about the story in their pack. I think this will actually help you make your product reach and make it more familiar to your consumers.”

She concluded the session with three key takeaways for the audience-

·      Health forward messaging- Not just nutrition-related health but also planet health

·      New technologies for better quality, taste and texture

·      Going back to the roots for familiarity- In terms of flavor, the variants that you're offering and the ingredients

“As long as you keep going back to the roots, you also increase your sustainability while being able to reach out to your consumers easily,” she signed off.

The 16th edition of India's biggest and most sought-after trade fair for the food and drink processing suppliers industry- ANUTEC International FoodTec India along with its concurrent trade fairs ANUTEC Ingredients India, PackEx India, Annapoorna- ANUFOOD India, and Food Logistics India was organized from 14 – 16 September 2022 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.

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