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The Latest Trends in Plant-Based Foods

March 08, 2023 by FreshByte Software

Plant-based foods have been an integral part of human diets since the beginning of civilization as the earlier humans were hunter-gatherers who lived on a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

While new plant-based foods such as tofu and soy milk made inroads in the 20th century, a wide range of plant-based foods including vegan meat alternatives, dairy-free cheeses, and plant-based milks made from nuts, seeds, and grains, have become staples on many American dining tables over the first two decades of the 21st century.

“Enter any restaurant, chain pub, or fast food outlet today and you will likely be greeted by a menu that features at least one or two plant-based food options, with many offering a fully plant-based alternative without even raising an eyebrow,” says the Blue & Gold magazine. “Just a generation ago, plant-based eaters found themselves on the fringes of culinary society, excluded from dinner party invites and forced out of food-centric celebrations by a lack of understanding of, or provision for, their dietary choices.”

Research Finds Americans Ready to Add Plant-Based Foods to Diets

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in plant-based diets due to concerns about animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and health with a survey in January finding that 2 in 5 Americans (42 percent) previously made a New Year’s resolution to add more plant-based foods to their meals but have trouble sticking to their goal.

“Whether for personal health or planetary health reasons, many Americans are intent on eating more plant-based foods, but still struggle to commit to the lifestyle,” said the survey by Wakefield Research. “And while keeping a vegan-focused New Year's resolution might be tough, the interest in a vegan lifestyle remains high.”

The survey, conducted for Saputo Dairy USA Vitalite dairy-free cheese brand, found that:

  • 68 percent of Americans have tried a plant-based meat or a dairy alternative.

  • 31 percent of Americans substitute meal, cheese, or dairy with a plant-based alternative in an average of eight meals a week.

  • Among the 32 percent who have never tried plant-based alternatives, the top reason is the assumption that the products will taste bad.

  • Other reasons for not trying plant-based alternatives: 23 percent not convinced of health benefits; 16 percent do not support veganism; and 12 percent because they do not know how to cook with plant-based substitutes.

Other key finds from the survey include:

  • Parent trap, gender gap: Sampling plant-based alternatives is higher among adults with kids (81 percent) than those without kids (61 percent). And the number of males (73 percent) who try to incorporate plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in their diets is higher than females (63 percent).

  • Don't label me: More than half of Americans (56 percent) would be reluctant to let others know if they were vegan or vegetarian. Top reasons cited were concerns about sticking with a vegan or vegetarian diet (23 percent), not wanting to impose their choices on others (21 percent) and not wanting others who eat meat or dairy to feel judged (18 percent).

  • Plant-based meat, milk alternatives top the charts: When it comes to different categories of food, trying plant-based alternatives for meat (49 percent) and milk (46 percent) is most common, with only 30 percent having sampled vegan cheese.

5 Trends that Could Take Plant-Based Eating Mainstream in 2023

Unilever Nutrition Strategy Director, Maxim Yermolayev, and ice cream innovation lead, Fatma Tek, see more people making plant-based eating part of their daily diet in 2023.

“Plant-based is a sweet spot between many trends... it's good for people's health and it's good for the planet,” said Yermolayev.

Yermolayev and Fatma see these 5 plant-based food trends in 2023:

  1. Hassle-free plant-based solutions: Consumers want meat-free meal options that are flavorful and fuss free. Expect to see:

o   Everyday inspiration for easy plant-based meals from social media sites like TikTok.

o   More veggie options in recipe box subscriptions and meal kits.

o   More plant-based prompts in e-grocery and quick commerce applications.


  1. Climate Considerations influencing purchase decisions: As consumers become more aware of the food system’s climate impact, it will influence their purchase decisions. Look for:

o   Clean labels and ingredient transparency from local and global brands.

o   Brands communicating the climate impact of plant-based choices.


  1. Innovated flavors and formats: Plant-based eaters want to explore and try new things in 2023. Food manufacturers will respond with:

o   Fruit-forward and nutty flavors for items such as ice creams.

o   Mini formats, such as snack-size offerings, to provide indulgences for plant-based eaters in moderation.

o   Products with “hidden” vegetable bases in items such as wraps and pastas.


  1. Exciting out-of-home options: Food trends are often born at restaurants, and this is where many eaters will experience new food, cuisines, and flavors in 2023 including:

o   Professional kitchens expanding plant-based menus.

o   Increased choice in quick service restaurants with options such as plant-based meat patties and nugget products.


  1. Your Favorite Brands will Offer Plant-Based Choices: Consumers want to be offered dairy and non-dairy options from their favorite brands. Expect to see:

o   Plant and non-plant options launched in tandem with new products by brands.


New Plant-Based Foods Coming to Market in 2023

Regardless of your opinion of vegan or vegetarian diets, expect to see a plethora of new plant-based food coming to market in 2023.

“From both an environmental and human health perspective, there's no substitute for meals made from whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes — which are more nutritious and tend to come with less packaging waste. But if you're looking for more variety or simply something that's easy to grab on the go, an ever-growing list of brands have you covered,” writes Mary Mazzoni in Triple Pundit.

Some of the new plant-based foods that Mazzoni says may be in your local markets in 2023 include:

  • WayFare yogurt line made with pumpkin seeds, butter beans, and oats. The brand already offers plant-based butter, cheese, and dessert.

  • South Korean food technology company Armored Fresh will sell almond milk cheese cubes and cheese slices in the U.S.

  • Texas startup Crafty Counter is marketing the first plant-based hard-boiled eggs, the nut-based WunderEggs, in Whole Foods stores across the U.S.

  • Food tech startup Aqua Cultured Foods is developing plant-based calamari, shrimp, scallops, and sushi-grade filets of tuna, sea bass, and whitefish.

  • Target is introducing new plant-based foods, as well as cookware, tableware and entertaining items from social media personality Tabitha Brown.

  • Nacho Vibes flavor of Hippeas’ chickpea tortilla chips is offered at Sprouts Farmers Markets and select retailers across the U.S.

  • Ben & Jerry’s is introducing the non-dairy Oatmeal Crème Pie flavor that includes marshmallow swirls and gluten-free, vegan cookies from the brand Partake.

  • Walmart locations are offering Violife’s Just Like Sour Cream dairy-free substitute.

  • Nutr is introducing Nutr Bends, a line of organic flavored powders like matcha, vanilla-cinnamon, and chocolate that are made to be added to homemade nut milks.

  • Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free will offer new plant-based coffee creamers.

  • Plant-based MingsBings, founded by Iron Chef alum Ming Tsai, has a frozen food lineup of Chinese flatbread pockets called “bings” inspired by traditional western flavors such as tacos, cheeseburgers, and egg sandwiches.

  • Califia Farms will now offer USDA-certified organic versions of its top-selling oat milk and almond milk.

Tags: Lifestyle, Food Trends

FreshByte Software

Written by FreshByte Software

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