Plant-based cheese, ready meals, seafood, and alternatives to eggs are among the biggest opportunities in the plant-based sector, a major new survey of over 6,000 consumers has found.
ProVeg International recently conducted a survey of 6,221 consumers across nine European countries in order to identify priorities for product improvement and development, based on consumers’ experience of purchasing and consuming plant-based products.
Plant-based cheese is the product that both reducers and plant-based eaters would most like to see more of in supermarkets. Plant-based ready meals is the second most in-demand product for reducers, and the third most in demand for plant-based eaters. Reducers would also like to see more plant-based meat alternatives which mimic meat, while plant-based eaters are looking for more plant-based baked goods and chocolates.
Verena Wiederkehr, Head of Food Industry and Retail, ProVeg International, said: “Both plant-based cheese and ready meals represent huge opportunities for growth. We recommend that manufacturers focus on expanding their ranges of these in-demand products and, particularly in the case of plant-based cheeses, work on improving taste and texture. The data supports the view that good quality, affordable plant-based cheeses have a good chance of penetrating, capturing and retaining a large part of a fast-growing and lucrative sector.”
For predictions on the growth of plant-based categories, manufacturers can look to the market for plant-based meat alternatives, which is predicted to double within the next five years. According to figures provided by Markets and Markets, the market is valued at 12.1 billion US$ in 2019 and is predicted to grow at an annual rate of around 15%, reaching almost 28 billion US$ by 2025. The global meat market, by comparison, is only predicted to grow by 3% a year, according to Kearney.
Plant-based seafood and egg alternatives
Major growth opportunities have also been revealed in plant-based seafood and egg alternatives. Only 16% of reducers have already purchased and tried plant-based seafood, while for egg alternatives the consumption rate is even lower, at only 11%. This is despite strong potential demand for both product categories, particularly in the case of egg alternatives among reducers.
Wiederkehr said: “The combination of strong potential consumer demand and low consumption rates is a recipe for extensive growth opportunities. We are seeing this in the plant-based seafood sector, which is still very much in its infancy, with relatively few manufacturers and little competition. So we recommend that manufacturers seriously consider expanding their product portfolios to include plant-based seafood.
“There are very few stand-alone egg alternatives on the market, far fewer than egg replacements for baking. If we also factor in eggs’ versatility, their breadth of function, and the frequency with which they are consumed, it becomes clear that the plant-based egg space is another major opportunity that is ripe for investors looking to support innovative startups.”
Other key findings
There are not enough plant-based options available in retail locations in almost every food category. The results also reveal that consumers want to see more variety in terms of product types, raw materials, textures, and flavours.
In terms of purchase drivers for plant-based foods, the most common reasons cited were curiosity to try new products, health benefits, trust in a brand, and taste.
In terms of product attributes (convenience, texture, taste, appearance, naturalness, price, and nutritional value), price was the main area of dissatisfaction in almost all product categories.