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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
As more consumers inevitably opt for plant-based foods, appealing tastes and textures will drive the success of meat and dairy alternatives.
As plant-based diets go mainstream, companies will need to meet consumer demands for product taste and texture, says a new report from nutrition and health ingredient supplier DSM (Delft, The Netherlands). In late 2018, the company commissioned a consumer survey on a total 2500 consumers from the following countries: Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and the United States. Subjects polled indicated that they opted to go meat- or dairy-free at least once per week. Among the survey’s takeaways is this fact: As more consumers inevitably opt for plant-based foods-if not all of the time, then at least some of the time as flexitarians, due to health and sustainability reasons-appealing tastes and textures will drive the success of meat and dairy alternatives.
The report points out that the number of flexitarians is increasing. Of those surveyed, for instance, 46% said they consume dairy while also occasionally consuming dairy alternatives. These customers may opt for plant-based diets more often, as long as the non-meat and non-dairy alternatives are appealing in terms of taste and texture.
Formulators of plant-based foods should focus on achieving the best taste and texture possible. There is still room to grow here, DSM points out. In a press release announcing the report, Carin Gerzon, global head of marketing communications at DSM Food Specialties, said: “The results of our survey show that consumers are looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet, and that this trend is not slowing down. At the same time, consumers care a lot about taste and texture, and our results show that more can be done on this front. Around half of the meat reducers we surveyed said they thought meat analogues tasted just ‘okay.'”
By contrast, DSM’s report points out, those more strictly devoted to plant-based alternatives, such as vegetarians and vegans, might be more accepting of the options currently available.
The company said: “DSM’s report shows that vegetarians and vegans are more satisfied with the taste of meat analogues than flexitarians. A reason for this may be the effects of comparison. Flexitarians have a consistent comparison point with the taste of real meat, influencing their evaluation of meat analogues. One in three respondents to DSM’s survey said they would pay more for meat analogues that taste more like meat, and the same number would pay more for meat analogues with a similar nutritional profile to meat.”