KANSAS CITY – Spreads innovators are creating new toppings for a variety of applications. They are adding attributes at a rapid rate, most often around a plant-based positioning, flavor profile or nutrient benefit. The result is a dynamic market where innovation is accelerating.

Thirty-eight percent of US consumers want to add more plant-based foods to their diets, according to research by the ingredient supplier Kerry, Beloit, Wis., which projected the US plant-based food market will hit $6.43 billion in sales by 2023. A wider acceptance of plant-based foods and new category expansion and innovation are propelling the category forward.

More than 1,000 new plant-based products have launched across 17 food categories since 2017, half of which were introduced last year alone. On US restaurant menus, plant-based items have grown 328% since 2018, and more than 20 major restaurant chains added a plant-based meat option to the menu in 2019, according to Kerry research.

The substance of the data may be seen in some recent spreads product launches. Upfield recently introduced its Flora Plant Butter in the United States. Once Again Nut Butter has introduced a cashew butter, and Califia Farms is offering a new cultured plant butter.

“Plant Butter is a plant-based, buttery, cultured spread made with top-shelf, whole food ingredients,” Califia Farms said. “It can be used in place of dairy butter for cooking and baking recipes and melts wonderfully.”

Adding attributes to create a point of differentiation in a category also is happening in spreads. Hormel Foods Corp. has introduced three new products under its Skippy brand, including a new squeeze pouch, no added sugar variety and one with additional protein.

“We know consumers are looking for new ways to enjoy the peanut butter they love while still delivering on taste and product benefits,” said Jennesa Kinscher, brand manager for Skippy. “We are thrilled to bring the first mainstream squeeze peanut butter and squeeze natural peanut butter spread to the category. It has already become a staple in our home for easy snacking, without the mess.”

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