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Celebrating Plant Power Day: The Latest in Plant-Based Food and Beverage Innovations

Celebrating Plant Power Day: The Latest in Plant-Based Food and Beverage Innovations

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Celebrating Plant Power Day: The Latest in Plant-Based Food and Beverage Innovations

Mar 7, 2022

John McCurdy
A double rainbow over a field of crops.

Today’s date marks Plant Power Day, an international observance first established in 2018 by Belgian food company Alpro to encourage consumers to eat more vegetables and plant-based alternatives and contribute to a shared goal of greater sustainability. As such, we’re dedicating today’s post to all things plant-based, with special attention to the latest and greatest in innovations in this category.

Before we dive in, though, it’s important to understand the growing size and appetite of this market—after all, that’s where the “power” lies, at least in terms of how this variety of products can serve to boost your business’s bottom line. The numbers are compelling, with data released by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and Good Food Institute (GFI) putting the segment at a valuation of $7 billion at the end of 2020.

What’s more, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) cited a Hartman Group study that found that nearly half of all consumers (48%) are actively looking for food and drinks labeled “plant-based,” demonstrating considerable buy-in on the part of shoppers. The trend is especially pronounced among younger buyers, with 56% coming from the Generation Z and millennial age groups.

So, what are the items that have people so excited to try out the plant-based lifestyle? Let’s discuss the hottest new developments across various sectors to give you a good idea of the breadth of offerings and the creative applications of technology at work.

Meat and Protein Alternatives

The most obvious and commonly found plant-based products are those that seek to replicate the taste and texture of meat, including beef, chicken, pork and even seafood. The much-publicized success of the Beyond and Impossible brands stands as proof of the viability of these items, and we covered some emergent technologies and brands in the space previously.

Even more has come down the pike since then, though, with Sweet Earth’s line of microwavable plant-based bowl meals drawing praise for their ease of preparation, variety and taste; as well as Hooray Foods’ plant-based bacon finding a receptive audience and quickly becoming available in a wide variety of locations. Meanwhile, Save da Sea is using carrots as the primary ingredient in their plant-based fish products and carving out a niche all their own.

This isn’t to say that tasty plant-based protein alternatives that don’t strive to imitate meat have been left behind. With a flavor all of their own, powders made from pea, chia, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, brown rice, alfalfa and sacha inchi from brands like Vega and Orgain are great for athletes or anyone looking to get great nutritional content with none of the harmful side effects of traditional meat production.

$7B

current valuation of the plant-based food and beverage product segment

Dairy-Free “Dairy”

While soy and almond milks have gained such widespread acceptance that they are offered at most coffee chains for incorporation in your morning cup of joe, they are not the be-all and end-all of plant-based dairy options. We looked into some of the motivations for exploration in this space in a previous post, but there’s new ground to cover with what’s hitting stores today.

For example, take a look at the vegan mozzarella, cashew milk cheese wheels, vegan cream cheese and vegan butter from Miyoko’s Creamery—these all faithfully recreate the taste and texture of well-loved dairy staples with no animal-derived ingredients. You can also find this kind of innovation at work on the frozen aisle with Revolution Gelato’s organic and dairy-free ice cream alternatives, including pints and pre-packaged pies.

And back on the subject of milk substitutes, Waitrose’s 2021-2022 Food & Drink Report named potato milk as the next great development in lactose-free offerings. Pioneering brand DUG is rolling out a full line with original, barista and unsweetened varieties, all low in sugar and saturated fat but still creamy and delicious.

The Magic of Mushrooms

The savory, earthy flavor of mushrooms has long been appreciated for use in sauces, toppings or even standing alone as a portobello “steak” or shiitake “burger.” Now, though, companies are exploring how to make both meat substitutes and functional drinks with these fantastic fungi.

For sandwiches or charcuterie, try Field Roast Meat & Cheese’s Mushroom & Balsamic Plant-Based Deli Slices, which have been relaunched with a new formula that combines balsamic vinegar, shiitake and porcini mushrooms for a taste akin to luncheon meat. MyForest Foods and Meati are also making meat substitutes with mycelium, a potent protein derived from mushroom roots.

At the same time, mushroom-based coffees, teas and tonics take a nod from traditional Chinese medicine by delivering benefits of stress reduction and holistic wellness in an easy-to-consume beverage. Four Sigmatic and Rritual are among the leaders in the space, with the former focusing more on protein drinks and coffees while the latter is all-in on adaptogen-enhanced elixirs that come in powdered form.

48%

of consumers are actively looking for food and drinks labeled "plant-based"

Becoming a Plant-Based Pioneer with Cutting-Edge Technology

Want to jump into the exciting space of plant-based products? You’ll need a solid digital foundation with tools especially suited to launching new offerings.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP is an ideal solution for businesses in this situation. Not only do you get robust recipe and formula management functionalities that empower your research and development team to experiment, iterate and perfect your plant-based lines—you also get a best-in-class, all-in-one platform that drives improvement in all areas of your business.

As part of your efforts to expand into the plant-based market, you’ll be working with different partners for new materials, and our system makes it easy to manage your supply chain and allergen concerns when introducing new sources. You’ll also need integrations with the latest in manufacturing technology to master the production process, and we offer all the latest there via our Microsoft Dynamics 365 framework.

We have a proven track record of helping companies like yours, too, with more than 1,000 successful implementations to date. Our decades of collective experience make us the experts not only when it comes to successfully rolling out our ERP solution, but also in providing guidance on best practices to get our clients up to speed for a full modernization.

Ready to learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and how it can help your business make moves in the plant-based food and beverage segment? Contact us today.

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