CHICAGO — Americans increasingly are shifting away from meat in favor of alternatives made from beans, nuts, ancient grains and even jackfruit. A rise in so-called “flexitarian” eating has inspired a wave of innovative new product launches featuring meaty textures, flavors and experiences, said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands.

Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights

“If we look at 10 years ago there was a lot of tofu and a lot of soy, and there were a lot of small niche players who were really focused on this market,” Ms. Williams said during a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition, held July 16-19 in Chicago. “And then about five years ago we saw new sources of proteins starting to emerge, more players entering the market, and the products getting a little more sophisticated, a bit trendier.”

The number of global food and beverage launches featuring a vegetarian claim has increased more than 60% between 2011 and 2015. Vegan launches also rose, accounting for 4.3% of total introductions last year, up from 2.8% in 2014 and 1.5% in 2012.

While the majority of meat substitutes are made with soy or wheat protein, alternative protein ingredients, including egg, pea, ancient grains and nuts, are on the rise, Ms. Williams said.

“In the United States, there could be more than 120 million people who are considered flexitarians, so it’s an absolutely huge market, and of course much bigger than vegetarians or vegans.”

The rise in part-time vegetarianism and its influence on new product development was one of 10 trends identified by Innova Market Insights during a presentation at I.F.T.

“Every year we spend about four months with our analysis team trying to figure out what’s happening and what we think is going to have the biggest impact on product development for the next year,” Ms. Williams said.

Click for a slideshow of the top 10 food trends discussed by Innova Market Insights at I.F.T.