Food Blog

Appealing to Flexitarians

Hormel, Tyson, White Castle, Burger King – that’s just the beginning of the list of companies introducing plant-based protein products. And their customers are eating it up, literally. Impossible Foods had to raise additional funds because they can’t keep up with retailers’ demand. Competitor Beyond Meat blew away many investors’ expectations in its Initial Public Offering and its plant-based burger recently was tested in McDonald’s Ontario, Canada, restaurants as the P.LT. (plant-lettuce and tomato).

Just a few years ago, blending meat and plant-based ingredients on a fast-food menu would have seemed like a recipe for failure. While the majority of people eat meat, today’s consumers are flocking to foods with blends of meat- and plant-based proteins. According to an August 2019 report from McKinsey & Co., “U.S. residents consume almost twice the amount of beef protein compared with the global average. It is therefore likely that traditional protein consumption in the U.S. will continue to be robust and may include both conventional and alternative products.”

A Mintel report provides further insight into this exploding market, showing that a majority of U.S. consumers believe that plant-based proteins are healthy and want to add more of them to their diet. 21% of respondents in a Mintel survey self-described as “flexitarian.” They desire to eat less meat without completely sacrificing the sensory and flavor experience. It’s important to note this “flexitarians” group is three times larger than vegans and vegetarians combined.

But taste is still king and not all plant-only proteins make people’s taste buds bow down. Mintel reports 54% of them say meat alternatives should closely mimic the taste of meat. That’s why a mixture of meat- and plant-based protein can be the perfect combo. Many plant-only options taste “earthy” and can’t match the texture of meat. But by elevating meat with plant-based textured proteins, like pea or wheat proteins, people can get the taste and texture of meat.

As you look for opportunities in the growing plant-based protein space, the best strategy might be to give your customers the best of both worlds by pairing animal and plant ingredients in "blended" protein products. Something we at MGP can provide expert help with.

Check out all the plant-based protein possibilities we offer.

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