Consumers globally are seeking out more protein-rich food products, and interest in alternative protein sources is surging, reports Innova Market Insights. Information on this trend—“a boom for protein”—and dozens of others is highlighted on the Food Expo floor within Innova Market Insights’ Taste the Trend Pavilion (booth 2669).
“Europe is ahead [in this area],” said Lu Ann Williams, Innova Market Insights’ Head of Research, but the U.S. marketplace won’t be far behind. “It’s about to jump a notch,” she predicted.
Innova Market Insights research has shown that the U.S. accounted for more than 40% of recent alternative protein patent activity [1980–2011]. “Greek yogurt woke American consumers up to the fact that there’s an alternative to eggs [as a protein source],” said Williams.
Consumers understand the benefits protein delivers, including its ability to promote satiety, Williams continued. “It’s one of those benefits you can feel,” she said. “You know you’re less hungry when you consume protein.”
According to Innova Market Insights, traditional protein sources like soy and chickpeas are getting product development attention, and a range of new products are starting to appear based on beans as well as nuts, seeds, and grains. In addition, new techniques are being developed to enhance the texture, juiciness, and flavor of meat analogs and proteins. In the 12-month period ended March 2012, more than one-third of the new product launches marketed on an “added protein” platform contained soy, according to the research firm’s data.
Part of what’s driving interest in alternative protein sources is growth in the number of flexitarians—consumers who enjoy meat but occasionally opt out because of concerns about health and the environmental impact of heavy meat consumption, Williams added.
Interest in meat alternatives can also be linked to another of the top trends Innova Market Insights has identified—sustainability or, as Innova and Williams put it, “green is a given.” Companies are approaching sustainability in myriad ways—as it relates to packaging, water, and energy. “Everybody isn’t going to be able to do the same thing,” said Williams, but most will make an attempt to take some action as it relates to operating more sustainably.
For a close-up “taste” of these trends and dozens more, stop by the Innova Market Insights’ Taste the Trend Pavilion. The Pavilion includes six large-scale trend presentations featuring data on ingredient technology, new product trends, and consumer insights as well as more than two dozen smaller presentations broken down into “Packaging & Technology,” “Ingredients & Flavors,” and “Consumer Insights” categories. More than 200 innovative products from around the world are also on display.