Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of UK companies employed an on-site workforce to conduct the day-to-day running of their business, with only 27% of employees having worked from home at some point in 2019, on average.
With plant-based foods now firmly in the mind of the mainstream consumer, the sector is set to capitalise and expand into brand new areas. In fact, food & beverage manufacturers are 56% more likely to invest in new plant-based products in 2022.
Barriers to selling such products still remain however. A recent survey by Bloomberg Intelligence found that 29% of customers are still resistant to different tastes and the production methods used in current plant-based foods.
So where is the market set to expand in 2022? New proteins, alternative milks, and replacements for pre-existing foodstuffs are all set to be the hot tickets in the industry this year. Make sure your business is ready to embrace this change by reading on!
Potatoes set to change alternative milk marketAlternative milks have long been at the forefront of the plant-based foods market. As it stands the market is currently worth approximately £400M a year, with one in three people in Britain drinking plant-based milks as of 2021. The demand for alternative milks has in fact now become so prevalent that the majority of coffee chains, such as Costa and Starbucks, no longer charge for orders that utilise them.
There are however still barriers to entry for consumers when it comes to non-dairy milks. Taste is still cited as a key factor, as well as a higher price when compared to dairy products. Yet despite this the market is expected to grow by 9.1% in the 2021-2022 period.
This potential for growth can most readily be seen in the recent launch of Dug’s potato milk. This newest alternative milk is set to be the next major competitor in the field The product was introduced into a number of Waitrose stores in the UK in February 2022.
Initially the launch of Dug’s line of potato milk looks set to encounter many of the same issues that plague its competitors. The average price of a litre of Dug’s barista milk (£1.80) is drastically higher than an equivalent purchase of cow’s milk (90p). The taste of Dug’s product line also seems to be an issue for cow’s milk stalwarts; reviews of potato milk have been decidedly mixed.
Yet Dug’s potato milk is banking on a theme that remains key for plant-based foods in 2022; sustainability. Dug describes its product line as ‘super sustainable’ with a 75% lower climate footprint than dairy milk. Dug also claims that growing potatoes is twice as efficient as oats whilst using less water than almonds.
Recent consumer data supports such an approach to drawing in new customers too. Research by IBM has found that nearly 60% of those surveyed were willing to change their shopping habits in order reduce their environmental impact. Whilst the figures vary across different age groups, sustainability is cited as a key decision maker for consumers in making their product choices.
Price also may not be as large a factor in 2022 as in previous years. The same research by IBM found that amongst those who were willing to change their shopping habits, over 70% were willing to pay a premium for brands that employ sustainable practices. The potential for Dug’s potato milk could indicate a willingness from consumers to accept a ‘saline aftertaste’ in exchange for shopping ethically.
‘Faux fish’ to become frontline of sustainable plant-based foodsAs already established, alternative milks and plant-based meats are seeing success through capitalising on an already established customer base. A new year can bring new innovations however and 2022 is set to be the year of plant-based seafood.
This new range of products, dubbed ‘faux fish’, are expected to grow by 28% in next decade to an overall market value of $1.3B. Sales in the sector grew 23% from 2019 to 2020 amid fresh innovations in plant-based proteins.
Aside from overall increased awareness and proliferation of plant-based alternatives, unique factors have also driven demand for seafood alternatives. Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of rampant overfishing as well as the dangers of these practices to marine wildlife. Global supply chain issues in recent years have also seen the price of seafood soar by up to 10.6% in the US alone. It’s likely that the impact of climate change and rising global inflation could see these prices rise even further.
Whilst the sector initially saw much of its growth fuelled by start-ups, mainstream players are now making inroads into the market. Nestle launched two of its own products in recent years; a prawn-based alternative called Vrimp and a faux-tuna product named Vuna. Both products utilise pea-based proteins with specific emphasis placed on mimicking the texture of seafood.
It’s not just changes in the seafood industry that are driving the investment in plant-based seafood. Analysts have cited ‘flexitarians’ as the driving force behind the uptake in more varied plant-based products. The trend of a ‘flexitarian’ diet, a diet focused primarily on reducing an individual’s climate footprint, is set to continue to dominate plant-based foods in 2022 and will help drive sales toward alternative proteins such as plant-based seafood.
Unlike many other plant-based foods, seafood alternatives are also attempting to focus on capturing and keeping a low price point for consumers. New England-based company Good Catch is capitalising on previously identified consumer trends, and attempting to offer their products at a wide-range of price points. Good Catch sell their plant-based crab cakes in packs of 24 for $13.99, working out at $0.58 per crab cake.
Fermentation becomes new pillar of alternative proteinsWhilst upcoming trends such as plant-based seafood are new and exciting sources of protein, they still utilise many of the same ingredients seen in older products. Fermentation however is an entirely new kind of protein and one set to dominate the plant-based foods market in 2022.
2021 saw a 290% rise in investment in UK based fermentation companies to a total figure of £212 million. Should this trend continue then the sector could explode and be at the forefront of the plant-based industry in 2022.
It’s important first to define the three types of fermentation being used in plant-based foods and their potential impact on the industry:
- Traditional Fermentation
- Biomass Fermentation
- Precision Fermentation
The products that these techniques can help to create are incredibly varied and set to change how consumers see plant-based foods. Perfect Day’s range of animal-free ice creams make use of recombinant whey proteins. Fynd’s Fy protein makes use of biomass fermentation derived from a fungus found volcanic springs at Yellowstone national park.
Plant-based egg replacements are set to be a real innovation. Egg replacements have previously seen limited development in the market. with vegan bakers traditionally relying on long-standing powdered alternatives. Clara Foods egg white alternative, launched in 2021, utilised precision fermentation and is set to reap the expected market growth of £1.35B between 2019-2026.
Fermentation is also set to ride the wave of sustainable shopping. Research by fermentation mainstay Quorn has found that for one meal, consumers save the equivalent of 20 showers worth of water. With modern consumers so focused on reducing their carbon footprint, fermentation is set to big inroads into sustainable plant-based foods.
ConclusionDespite positive market penetration thus far, plant-based foods are set to expand even further and embrace further innovations in 2022. Potato milk is helping to capitalise on a renewed focus on sustainability and introduce a fresh approach to the establish alternative milks market.
Plant-based fish could help address one of the markets largest restricting factors – price. Companies such as Good Catch are introducing affordable and sustainable products into the market. A focus on helping reduce the rampant overfishing in 2022 is also set to draw attention to ‘faux fish’.
Finally, innovation and investment in protein fermentation is set to make it a brand new supply line for plant-based products. The ability to utilise microorganism and DNA sequences can lead to the introduction of animal-free products thought to be previously unobtainable.
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