Plant Power: Challenges and Opportunities in the Development of Meat and Fish Alternatives

While the traditional meat industry remains strong, interest in flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian diets is soaring.
While the traditional meat industry remains strong, interest in flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian diets is soaring.

There seems to be no stopping the plant-based market. Interest in meat alternatives has exploded in recent years; 27% of global consumersa now say they consume meat substitutes. It’s a similar story for fish alternatives, which is quickly becoming a firm favorite, as well, with 28% of consumersb in Europe stating that they have recently eaten fish alternatives. While the traditional meat industry remains strong, interest in flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian diets is soaring. The plant-based marketc is showing no signs of slowing down either—the retail value of meat alternatives is predicted to more than double by the end of the decade.

Rising demand for plant-based products and accelerated ingredient innovation means there is significant growth potential for the plant-based category over the next few years. For food and beverage manufacturers, there is an exciting opportunity to diversify their offerings, but there are first several challenges to overcome to ensure success in such a dynamic, fast-paced market.

Understanding Taste and Texture Challenges

For plant-based producers, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is creating a product with the right taste and texture. Today’s discerning consumers expect an authentic and appealing sensory profile from start to finish—and are not willing to compromise. Consumers want plant-based meat alternatives to contain the distinctive umami and Maillard flavors associated with traditional grilled or fried meat products, as well as the typically juicy and succulent mouthfeel that animal fat brings. And quite often, current market offerings are not meeting expectations; only 30% of consumers believe that plant-based meat alternatives taste as good or better than conventional meat productsd. Similarly, in plant-based fish alternatives, consumers are on the lookout for products with a distinctive fishy flavor with authentic textures that emulate flakey, light white fish like cod or dark, oily fish like mackerel or tuna.

Footnotes:

awww.fmcggurus.com/blog/fmcg-gurus-the-growth-of-meat-substitutes-2021/

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cDSM management estimates.

For the full article, please check out the Perfumer & Flavorist+ November 2022 issue.

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