Food for thought

Sandwich with chicken burger, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce

It wasn’t so long ago that being vegan was considered an alternative lifestyle choice – one that was practiced primarily by a select group of consumers. Now, however, flexitarian eating is on the rise and going vegetarian is mainstream; these days, even veganism is no longer seen as a niche choice. At Brenntag Food and Nutrition we have the products as well as the specialist knowledge to help you meet the challenges of these trends and rise above the competition.

One of the biggest consumer trends of 2019 is the shift away from ‘conventional’ diets towards vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, and all the eating styles in between. Think flexitarian, plant-protein enriched, low-carb, no-carb, keto, paleo, dairy-free, organic, to name a few.

Concern for the environment, personal health, and animal welfare are the reasons people often cite for this shift in lifestyle. Flexitarians are drastically reducing their meat intake, and opting instead for a variety of more sustainable, ‘clean’ protein choices, among them peas, beans, pulses and other legumes. Meanwhile as many as 8 out of 10 US consumers have changed their own or their family’s diet to try to be healthier, with over 39%1 of them saying they’ve increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Plant protein goes mainstream

While health is an important factor, demand is accelerating rapidly due to an increased awareness of the environmental impact of meat production. Millennials, in particular, are more conscious about the food that they eat and the way it is produced and as a result the demand for sustainable food choices will only increase in the forthcoming years.2

It’s no surprise, then, that the shift towards plant-based foods is among the top three consumer trends in North America. The global alternative proteins market is growing at double-digit rates and is expected to reach US$5.2 billion worldwide by 2020.

Innovative ingredients

This move away from the high use of animal products and the subsequent rise in vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian eating means the focus is on traditional foods and ingredients – which in turn means substantial opportunities for new product development.

This is especially true in the case of innovations in vegan protein, otherwise known as plant-based protein. The number of food and beverage launches featuring pea protein has tripled globally in the last five years (2018 vs 2014) which makes it easier than ever for consumers to incorporate more plant-based food into their daily diets.

Challenges and support

The popularity of plant-based nutrition shows no sign of slowing down. At Brenntag Food and Nutrition, one of our aims is to develop healthy, sustainable, plant-based products that mimic the sensory experience – the taste and texture – of animal proteins and animal-based products.

Competition in this rapidly growing market is becoming increasingly intense, and so product differentiation is essential. This is where Brenntag can help.

Homemade beef burgers with onion, pickles, fresh vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and tomato sauce on serving wooden board over blue painted background. Top view, vertical composition