ROCKVILLE, MD. — Marketers of plant-based meat alternatives should focus on convenience offerings such as prepared meals, according to market researcher Packaged Facts.

"A top reason that consumers cite for buying any type of prepared meals is time savings,” said Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food and beverage publisher for Packaged Facts. “Incorporating plant-based meat into prepared foods is the ultimate convenience since consumers can have a complete meal at home or at a workplace with little effort.”  

Some small companies that make plant-based meat are focusing on prepared meals in addition to plant-based protein alternatives for consumers making their own meals. For example, startup Alpha Foods offers a lineup of more than 20 varieties of prepared foods incorporating its plant-based chicken, sausage, and beef, including burritos, handheld pot pies, tamales, and pizza. 

Big food companies and their brands are also moving into the prepared meal space. Conagra Brands, Inc. has incorporated its Gardein brand of plant-based meat products into a number of frozen prepared foods, such as skillet meals, microwavable fajita bowls and sandwiches. This past July, Conagra announced plans to add Gardein plant-based meat alternatives to prepared meals sold under the Birds Eye, Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's brands. The company also unveiled Gardein plant-based jerky and a range of canned soup made with plant-based meat.

Restaurants also are adding plant-based meat alternatives to dishes beyond the standard vegetarian burger. Recently introduced menu items include pizza varieties featuring plant-based sausage.