Alternative proteins; temporary trend or new essential?

Did you know that about 50% of people are deliberately eating less meat? The meat business is not at risk of disappearing, but meat substitutes are taking the market by storm! They’re taking up more and more shelf space in supermarkets, millions are being spent on development, and in-vitro meat labs and plant-based initiatives are being inundated with funding. Moreover, you’ll find beans, lentils, soy proteins, and different grains popping up on menus wherever you look. And we haven’t even mentioned seaweed, algae, and insects yet! Emerging markets? They’re becoming mainstream. That’s why you really want to hop on this trend and create some variety in your menu with interesting meat alternatives!

Holy crab, right?

There are countless alternatives to meat and seafood. Some brands focus on the molecular make-up of meat and try to recreate it by using the same building blocks, sourced from non-animal origins. Others use everyday ingredients to copy the structure, taste and look of the original. That’s how we’ve ended up with sushi-grade tuna made from tomato, olive oil, soy sauce, and algae extract, or carrot-based smoked salmon. Dutch company Mosa Meat and Singapore-based Shiok Meats take yet another approach, growing meat from cells to create actual meat, without the environmental impact of animal farming. Shiok Meats even uses a 3D printer to replicate the actual structure of crustaceans. Holy crab, right?

Daring dairy

In the world of dairy, alternative proteins have already reached a more mature stage, with rice, nut, or grain-based milk being commonly available in supermarkets and coffee joints all over the world. Consumers have many different reasons for preferring these alternatives and the market is expected to continue to grow. Alternative creams and cheeses are a little more niche and aren’t consumed as widely. However, there’s lots of interesting stuff happening in this area, with innovations like almond camembert and oat-based cheddar on the rise.

Pleasing the public

All in all, consumers are ready for alternative proteins, with even avid meat eaters choosing to spend their money on plant-based alternatives. However, the public can be picky. They’d rather have ‘plant-based’ dishes over ‘meat-free’ ones, for instance. What’s more, 43% of consumers over the age of 65 worldwide would currently not consider plant-based alternatives. The biggest enthusiasts? Gen Z and Millennials, who are driven by perceived physical and mental health benefits, animal welfare, and sustainability.

The future is… alternative!

The number of meat substitutes is predicted to increase in the upcoming years, including both meat lookalikes and substitutes made from entirely different ingredients. Single-cell proteins like fungi and algae are expected to see the greatest growth, at 6%. The volume of grain-based meat alternatives is predicted to grow by 4.5%. A small step for alternative proteins, but a big step for foodservice! The fact that guests are embracing this meat revolution opens up a whole world of opportunities, with new flavours, colours, and structures. That’s exactly why putting alternative proteins on your menu isn’t a trendy choice. They’re quickly becoming essential, and they’re a must if you want to show you’re open to any dietary preference and keeping up with changing times!