Impossible Burger
Impossible Foods is tapping consumer interest in preserving the environment as a point of differentiation.
 

KANSAS CITY — The market for plant-based protein is advancing well beyond its previously defined space in beverages and sports nutrition. As consumers continue to express an interest in such ingredients, opportunities are opening in a variety of categories, including bakery, dairy alternatives and more.

Kara Nielsen, vice-president of trends and marketing for CCD Innovation, Inc., Emeryville, Calif., said plant-based proteins are bringing new consumers to the market for products featuring the nutrient.

Kara Nielsen, trendologist
Kara Nielsen, vice-president of trends and marketing for CCD Innovation

“These people may be vegans, people with allergies or people who are looking for alternatives that are innovative and interesting,” she said. “They are taking the generic protein trend in a new direction.”

That new direction was prominently on display this past September during the Natural Products Expo East trade show that was held in Baltimore Sept. 13-16. By 2020, global sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives are forecast to reach $19.5 billion and $5 billion, respectively, said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, San Francisco, during a presentation at the show.

Sweet Earth Foods
In September, Nestle USA agreed to acquire Sweet Earth, a manufacturer of plant-based frozen meals, burritos, breakfast sandwiches and chilled plant-based burgers and proteins. 

Driven by health, environmental and animal welfare concerns, more than a third of Americans buy plant-based meat alternatives, and just over a quarter of consumers said they ate less animal meat in the past year, Ms. Simon said.

Good Karma flax milk
Dean Foods took a minority stake in Good Karma Foods in May.

“What is more important when choosing a product?” she asked. “For certain consumers, especially vegans, it is more important that it is vegan. That’s part of the reason why you are seeing vegan yogurts and other products like them.”

Ms. Nielsen added that a company like Impossible Foods, Redwood City, Calif., is also capitalizing on such higher-order trends. Impossible Foods manufactures a plant-based burger that has the taste and texture of a meat-based product.

Impossible Burger
Impossible Foods manufactures a plant-based burger that has the taste and texture of a meat-based product.