Thursday, November 9, 2023

Prioritize Protein in 2024 if you Plan to Play in Plant-based Dairy Space


A whopping 42% of consumers said that “protein” is the most important ingredient going into 2024, according to Innova Market Insight’s global research. So, if you play in the plant-based dairy space, or plan to enter it, protein content must be prioritized right along with taste and price…or else, your product will likely not survive. 

Of the approximately 30,000 new products launched annually, 95% fail, according to numerous studies. The results are costly to bottom lines and brand reputations. Some reports claim more than $500,000 in development costs and 50 days of lost staff hours from each failed product launch. Brands must also be mindful of negative impacts to company sustainability and environmental goals, as well as damage to brand reputation. Learning from mistakes and offering a “new and improved” formulation is not a healthy approach. You have to do it correct the first time, or at least as close to correct as possible with advanced ingredient technology.  

Mark Robert, technical director North America-dairy at Tate & Lyle, and also my former Illini food science classmate, says, “An issue that has emerged is that many plant-based alternative products don’t have a protein source. With dairy-based products, you have casein and whey, and both are high-quality protein sources. But, when the first wave of dairy alternatives came out, many lacked that protein component or didn’t have the right functionality in their proteins.”

Protein content not only contributes nutrition, it also assists with texture, mouthfeel, flavor and even shelf life. It helps keep ingredient labels simple and it also may help reduce food waste, as protein binds water, reducing syneresis and even lowering water activity. In its absence, products such as cream cheese and yogurt alternatives, for example, need to be formulated with stabilizers, emulsifiers and acidulants. 

“The same is true with frozen desserts. With dairy, the proteins contribute greatly to the smoothness and aerating qualities,” says Roberts. “If you want to try and match that texture in plant-based, it can be more challenging, especially if you’re trying to stay on the clean label side of the ingredient statement.”

Read more from him on this topic HERE

The number-two trend from Innova’s research must also be prioritized. It’s “nurturing nature” and is all about sustainability and reducing food waste. Being plant-based is not enough for shoppers to think they are doing the planet good. 

I had the opportunity to attend a media event this week at Fornino in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to kick off a two-week “Waste Not, Want More” culinary event. You can read more HERE in an article titled “The future of menus includes upcycled ingredients” in Food Business News

The event was where Spare Starter made its debut. Spare Starter is a versatile value-added culinary ingredient made with six vegetables and a proprietary spice blend. It includes parts of vegetables, such as leaves and stalks, which are nutritious but more typically trimmed and discarded. It was developed by two brothers who founded The Spare Food Co., New York, which produces Spare Tonic, a climate-friendly probiotic sparkling beverage made with upcycled whey. (Pictured at beginning of blog.)

Ingredients matter. And reducing food waste is a priority for shoppers. 

At SupplySide West a few weeks ago, Amanda Hartt, senior manager for NEXT Data and Insights at New Hope Network, shared research showing that “concern for food waste resonates across all generations. [Consumers] look to brands that mitigate reducing waste in their supply chain.”

Reducing food waste also factors in the value of the purchase. This is especially true during these inflationary times when shoppers are watching their finances. Brands need to engage shoppers to explain the value products bring to the table. 

Nothing beats the power of dairy proteins, but remember, there are people who do not eat dairy for their own personal reasons. Dairy processors are well poised to produce plant-based options. Just remember to include protein.  

“Solving the protein problem in plant-based dairy alternatives is an essential part of creating products consumers can feel good about eating and enjoy for their own sake,” concludes Roberts. “Whether they’re after a nutritional boost, something to fit their lifestyle or just a tasty non-dairy snack, we are better positioned now than we have ever been to deliver quality products consumers can love.”

No comments:

Post a Comment