The plant-based protein market is entering a new phase. A market that initially attracted early adopters is now serving more than half the population, mainly for health, environmental and/or ethical reasons. The expansion beyond early adopters raised the bar for taste, texture and nutrition, creating a competitive edge for brands that deliver the sensory properties flexitarians want from meat-like products. Solina has founded NEXTERA® by Solina to help brands rise to that challenge.
The commercial opportunity for plant-based proteins that satisfy consumer demands on texture and taste is significant and growing rapidly. From 2014 to 2019, the European market for meat substitutes roughly doubled in size, according to Euromonitor. The market is predicted to maintain that rate of growth, doubling every five years or so to be worth €2.4 billion by 2024.
There are reasons to think the market will become much bigger. At €2.4 billion, European sales of plant-based alternatives will be 3% the size of the region’s processed meat industry. In other sectors, notably plant-based milks, alternatives to animal products have claimed more than 3% of the market and research suggests further meat sector penetration is possible. One study found one-third of people would choose a plant-based burger if it cost and tasted the same as a meat product.1
Converting one-third of European processed meat sales to plant-based alternatives is a multi-billion euro market opportunity. Food brands that try to seize that opportunity will benefit from consumer perceptions of the health, environmental and ethical benefits of plant-based diets, which are driving around half of Europeans to ‘regularly switch’ to meat-free days.2,3
Yet, food brands need to do more than appeal to the moral and ethical motivations of consumers. To achieve a double-digit share of the processed meat market, developers of plant-based proteins need to satisfy consumer demands on taste, texture and nutrition. A 2019 survey of 24,000 Europeans identified taste as the top repeat purchase criteria for food purchases.4 Another study found sensory attractiveness is a key barrier to uptake of plant-based proteins.5
Manufacturers have made progress in trying to bring that barrier down in recent years. However, the off, sometimes bitter, flavors associated with many plant-based proteins and the broader problem of their lack of meat-like tastes and textures are yet to be fully resolved. There remains a need for the input of independent and objective experts in the taste and texture of meat who have the knowhow and all the main technologies to convert protein raw materials to the requested (semi-) finished product, optimized in taste, texture appearance and nutrition. At Solina, we have created NEXTERA® by Solina to address that need.
1. Slade, P. If you build it, will they eat it? Consumer preferences for plant-based and cultured meat burgers. Appetite 125, 428–437 (2018).
2. Errendal, S. An Exploration of Diet Factors Motivating Flexitarians, Vegetarians, and Vegans in Loma Linda and Copenhagen, to Foster a More Plant-Based Copenhagen. (2019) doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.29414.88640.
3. 50% of European Consumers Are Consciously Cutting Out Meat, Says New Report. https://www.livekindly.co/half… (2018).
4. Veganz Nutrition Survey 2019 – 15 european countries, one survey! https://veganz.com/veganznutritionsurvey/.
5. Hoek, A. C. et al. Replacement of meat by meat substitutes. A survey on person- and product-related factors in consumer acceptance. Appetite 56, 662–673 (2011).
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