CHICAGO — ADM has identified seven consumer trends in the alternative protein category: novel protein sources, fermentation, whole-muscle solutions, transparency, price parity, child-friendly product formats and authentic cuisines.
The Chicago-based company based its findings on research from its Outside Voice consumer insights platform.
“In the last 12 months, the number of plant-based meat, cheese and dairy products available to consumers has more than doubled,” said Leticia Goncalves, president of Global Foods for ADM. “Innovation driven by future-forward brands like Air Protein, Future Meat Technologies, Nature’s Fynd, in partnership with larger industry players such as ADM, are transforming the way we will feed a growing global population sustainably.”
Fungi and air are examples of novel protein sources. Cell-based meat counts are, as well. Future Meat Technologies, Rehovot, Israel, is working on cell-based meat made from cultivated animal cells. The company is developing more efficient processes for manufacturing meat products at scale. Air particles, volcanic ash, seaweed and insects are all examples of novel protein sources.
Microbial fermentation may be used to develop alternative proteins. Companies such as ADM have fermentation capabilities to support food, beverage and health and wellness brands with downstream processing, lab services and consultations, according to ADM.
Whole-muscle, plant-based products such as chicken breast alternatives are becoming more available to global consumers. Brands are seeking novel ways to reproduce the texture of animal-based, whole-muscle cuts ranging from T-bone steaks to shellfish.
Innovation and transparency from seed to fork will become more important as concerns about climate change increase and consumers demand greater sustainability in existing food systems. Seed-to-fork initiatives leverage technology to improve seed breeding and lessen the cost, time and environmental impact associated with creating consumer-ready protein sources.
The purchasing choices of parents may fuel the rise of child-friendly product formats. ADM’s Outside Research indicates parents looking for mealtime solutions that delight and nourish all family members are the largest cohort of flexitarian consumers. Child-friendly flavors, colors and formats could appear in plant-based chicken nugget alternatives, yogurt alternatives, pizza, and macaroni and cheese alternatives.
Brands are exploring ways to offer traditional, authentic cuisines that apply to specific regions and appeal to consumers’ desire for items like plant-based shawarma alternatives, schnitzel alternatives and shrimp dumplings alternatives.