Trends Driving Plant-Based Food Innovation

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As consumers look to expand their palates with plant-based proteins, innovation and variety are the name of the game in 2022. Ingredients such as textured pea proteins, mung beans and seaweed are being utilized alongside soy to improve the taste and texture of meat analogues. Thai mushroom and jackfruit “pork” and burgers made from sunflower, fava bean and beetroot in UAE showcase this new wave of ingredient creativity.

A running theme of “better for you, better for the planet” has taken over plant-based product development, as consumer awareness of the environmental effects of the meat industry and marine ecosystem grows. In the US, whitefish made from pulses is being served at a national seafood chain, while a fast casual West Coast operation showcases vegan lamb in their souvlaki sandwiches. An Austrian startup has even developed a method for 3D printing pea- and algae-based salmon, to create a healthier and more sustainable product.

Traditional snacks are getting a plant-based makeover too, with unique items such as vegan jerky (Germany), lentil and bean pretzels (US) and mushroom crackers (Brazil) making their way onto retail shelves. Salty plant-based snacks are common in India—especially roasted, seasoned chickpeas—but an opportunity exists to expand the market with healthier options and snack-appropriate meat and dairy substitutes.

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