Recent data shows a 60 percent increase in global new product rollouts using a vegetarian claim between 2011 and 2015 and an annual growth in meat-substitute products of 24 percent globally during the same period. The report states Germany is leading the movement, with 69 percent of consumers claiming to eat meatless meals at least once a week, compared to 38 percent of Americans making the same claim.
“This trend represents a growing opportunity for high-quality meat alternatives,” said Lu Ann Williams, IMI’s director of innovation.
The flexitarian movement has fueled innovations using plant-based proteins as meat substitutes, which traditionally have utilized soy or wheat protein as the primary ingredient. More recently, other protein alternatives have emerged, according to IMI, including egg, pea, ancient grains and nuts.
As the segment grows, Williams said there are opportunities to make the protein alternatives appealing to meat eaters. To win them over, however, will likely require a product that offers an eating experience that is comparable to meat.
“While many vegetarians may opt for a diet rich in vegetables and beans, meat eaters may turn to meat substitutes if the product is right,” she said. “Instead of just finding alternatives, technological solutions also need to be focusing on the development of meat substitutes closely mimicking the taste and texture of meat products.”
Optimizing opportunities relating to the growing number of flexitarians will be the focus of a presentation by IMI at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists trade show (IFT16) July 16-19.