How can food manufacturers accelerate new product development with plant-based ingredients? And in doing so meet the consumers’ desires for protein alternatives that

support health,
provide dietary variety,
encompass sustainability, and
taste great?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, intentional strategies that incorporate innovation, technology, and foresight can accelerate your new product development.

Today, many plant-based ingredients and products struggle because they don’t deliver on sensory or functional attributes (e.g., non-dairy melting cheese). Another challenge is that the products can’t be made at scale, or are too costly. Manufacturers must overcome these limitations to unlock new products that consumers can enjoy in the short term while keeping sight of strategic investments that will fuel future competitive innovation.

What are the strategic opportunities where diligent research and targeted investments will pay dividends moving forward?

Address Taste and Functionality: Now and Later

Plant-forward foods must deliver on taste. Period. While it’s true that consumers’ palettes are evolving, taste continues to dictate food choices. For products that deliver on taste, consumers are still making trade-offs between functionality and price, which may vary with the product type and meal occasion (smoothie versus grilled cheese sandwich).

The future of plant-based products is not just mimicking the quality or nutrition of animal-based counterparts. The future is in exceeding these and other product attributes. Existing innovations in processing, enzymes, and blending can help you overcome flavor, texture, and functionality challenges you face now. Delivering cost and nutritional parity will require longer-term additional developments in the plant-based ingredient eco-system.

Understand and Control the Supply: With Sustainability Benefits, Too

Processing approaches to modify the plant proteins’ physical and chemical properties continue to evolve. Pulses and grains may rule today, but challenges with oats, beans, algae, and canola are quickly being resolved. Unique technologies (e.g., improving protein-fat interactions) are generating new opportunities for plant-based fibers and up-cycling of plant materials. Many companies are leveraging patents and exclusive licensing agreements to control and limit access to these valuable innovations by just a few players.

Anticipate Future Trends: Most Importantly, Be Ready for Them

Clients ask us how to make better strategic decisions and inform their long-range strategic planning. We use foresight to help clients understand how the food ecosystem may evolve and what that means for their core products, business, and new opportunities. Why? Because this approach provides insights into longer time horizons. And this is beneficial when uncertainty is high, and organizations don’t know how industry forces will unfold.

For example, our insights indicate consumers are passing down belief systems and food choices. And doing so could influence children’s palate and future purchasing behaviors. Foresight helps you consider what this could mean in the future for your products, and how you can prepare for future consumer interests and actions.

Do you need to identify emerging opportunities and unmet customer needs? Or accelerate new ideas through product development to market launch? Are you trying to build strategic partnerships that provide long-term growth? We can help, and unlock your innovation potential.

How can we bring fresh perspectives to your toughest innovation challenges? Contact us.

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