Product Focus: Vegetarian Foods

The consumer trend to reduce meat consumption has led to new opportunities for flexitarian eaters.

The desires for clean labels, ease of digestion, avoid[ing] allergens, compatibility with vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and concerns about sustainability among the general population are putting the spotlight on plant proteins.

– David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts

Innova Market Insights data shows a 60 percent increase in global food and beverage launches using a vegetarian claim 2011-2015. Launches featuring the term “vegan” also rose to account for 4.3 percent of total introductions in 2015, up from 2.8 percent in 2014 and just 1.5 percent in 2012.

The trend toward reducing meat intake in the diet has led to the emergence of new opportunities to target vegans, vegetarians, non-meat eaters and non-red-meat eaters. New opportunities are emerging for so-called flexitarians, who mainly eat a plant-based diet, but do occasionally eat meat. These trends have accelerated the move toward the use of plant-based proteins as meat substitutes. The majority of meat substitutes are still soy- or wheat-protein based, but products are evolving with alternative protein ingredients such as egg, pea, ancient grains and nuts.

“This trend represents a growing opportunity for high-quality meat alternatives, which is also being reflected in the 24 percent average annual growth in global meat substitute launches recorded between 2011 and 2015,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “A key area of opportunity in meat substitutes may be in targeting meat eaters as much as vegetarians. While many vegetarians may opt for a diet rich in vegetables and beans, meat eaters may turn to meat substitutes if the product is right. Instead of just finding alternatives, technological solutions also need to be focusing on the development of meat substitutes closely mimicking the taste and texture of meat products.”

Meat Substitutes

Seasoned Vegetables Take Center Plate

Tommy’s Superfoods offers seasoned vegetable blends designed to be the main course. Committed to sustainability and bringing healthy, gourmet cuisine to the frozen food aisle, Tommy’s Superfoods flash-freezes produce at the nutritional peak of ripeness to lock in freshness and nutrients. Made with all-natural ingredients and offering non-GMO verified options, the recipes all contain less than 140mg of sodium per serving. New Cauliflower and Green Beans includes garlic, chili pepper and seasonings. Root Fusion combines Fuji apples with beets, turnips and carrots with sage seasoning. “Getting the recommended two to three cups of vegetables a day has never been easier or more delicious,” says founder Tommy Williams.

Non-Dairy Nacho Sauce

Notcho Nocheez is The Happy Vegan's nutritious alternative to traditional cheese dips and sauces. It’s an all-natural and vegan product that is also free of gluten, sugar, soy and GMOs. It’s made with almonds, nutritional yeast, peppers, lemon juice and seasonings. The nutritional yeast gives it a “cheesy” delicious flavor, according to the company. It mixes well with tomato sauce or can be stirred into hot pasta, veggies or potatoes. It can even be baked on tortilla chips for a nachos-type snack. There are three varieties: Original, Tangy Mild and Habanero Hot.

Flavorful Rice in Minutes

For on-the-go consumers, McCormick & Co. is rolling out Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Rice Cups. Merchandised in supermarket rice aisles or in the heat-and-eat section of convenience stores, the single-serve portions are ready in just under four minutes in the microwave. Varieties include: Black Beans and Rice, Dirty Rice Mix, Jambalaya Mix and Red Beans and Rice. The bean varieties provide 3g of fiber plus protein. The suggested retail price is $1.49.

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