Power to the Plants: Embracing the Future of Food with Plant-Based Innovations


Corwin Hiebert


April 9, 2024

In today's ever-evolving food industry, the shift towards more sustainable and ethical eating practices is undeniable. Throughout this transformation, plant-based products are becoming increasingly central to the conversation about the future of food.

However, the journey towards widespread acceptance of plant-based alternatives is not without its challenges. For example, the perceptions around taste, health and affordability of these products. If you’re a brand aiming to address and overcome these hurdles, this is for you.

Tackling Taste: Bridging the Flavor Gap in Plant-Based Alternatives

A common hurdle in the acceptance of plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) is the belief that they cannot replicate the taste of meat and animal by-products. Consumers often seek products that not only closely mimic the taste of meat but are also competitively priced and nutritionally comparable, if not superior.
Brands can use this as an opportunity to emphasize the versatility of plant-based alternatives. Try showcasing their incorporation into a plethora of dishes, special occasions and culinary traditions through recipe promotion and collaborations.

Heura's innovative taste-tests with the Barcelona Women’s Football team is a fun example that demonstrates the indistinguishable taste quality of their PBMAs. Heura did a blind taste-test with the team's players with their plant-based burgers. It was a resounding success – with some fun banter between the players, too!

If you’re thinking long-term, like we are at Ethical Food Group (EFG), then investment in product innovation is key. Keep an eye on the development of whole muscle and seafood alternatives as well as shelf-stable products. These will be essential to attracting new consumers and advancing the plant-based food industry.

Nutritional Myths Debunked: Ensuring Health and Transparency

The perception of PBMAs as overly processed and nutritionally inferior poses a significant barrier. We here at EFG suggest that brands focus on clean labeling to attract health-conscious consumers.

Brands like Sweet Earth, Hungry Planet and My Bacon exemplify this approach by highlighting beneficial nutrition-related claims such as high fiber, reduced calories and fortified vitamins in their meatless innovations.

Simplifying ingredient labels and adjusting claim language to align with consumer trends can further demystify the health benefits of plant-based products. It’s important to keep an eye on trends to make sure your language doesn’t become stale.

For example, words like gluten-free, recyclable/recycled materials, organic and dairy-free are on a steep decline. On the flip side, words like plant-based, carbon neutral, ease of use and palm-oil-free are on a growth trajectory.

Affordability: Making Plant-Based Accessible to All

Economic challenges, like the ongoing inflation struggles, have heightened consumer focus on affordability, often deterring trials of new, less familiar foods like PBMAs. With strategic pricing models, such as offering smaller package sizes or providing discount incentives, you can address these concerns with consumers.

Offering frozen options versus shelf-stable options can also broaden the appeal of plant-based products among price-sensitive consumers. As the plant-based market matures, positioning yourself at the intersection of taste parity with meat and price competitiveness will be crucial for mainstream acceptance.

The Path Forward for Plant-Based Brands

The transition to more eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable eating habits is paved with challenges, yet it presents a ripe opportunity for brands willing to innovate and adapt. By addressing consumer concerns around taste, health and affordability, your brand can play a pivotal role in shaping a green food industry.

We invite ethical food founders to join us at EFG in pioneering the next wave of plant-based diet innovations and sustainable food industry practices. Together, we can turn the tide towards a more sustainable and health-conscious future.

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Corwin Hiebert
VP, Strategic Partnerships, EFG
Corwin is at the helm of the day-to-day activities of EFG, and brings his year's of experience in the food business to every EFG member, partner and client.

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