two meatless meat sliders on serving dish

Meatless "Meat" Trends for 2021

Plant-based meats got an unexpected boost last year when meat shortages forced consumers to explore alternatives. Taste, variety, and sustainability have kept them coming back for more. See how plant-based meats will ride the wave into 2021!

The Surge in Plant-Based Meat Sales During COVID-19

Plant-based meats have been on the rise due to consumer trends in healthy diets, sustainable foods, and adventurous eating. The category has quickly shifted from a few large food companies selling frozen offerings to startup innovations like “raw” refrigerated plant-based meats, private-label launches by supermarkets, and a proliferation of fast food plant-based meats.

When the COVID-19 outbreak led to meat processor shutdowns and retail shortages, many consumers had to switch to plant-based meats so they could continue making their families’ favorite meals. Now, many of these new consumers are repeat purchasers. Increased sales and expanded household penetration have made this an exciting time for the plant-based meat category.

2021 Plant-Based Meat Trends

Continued strong growth for plant-based meats is expected into the new year, with manufacturers remaining nimble and responsive to consumers’ needs. Here’s a look at the top trends in plant-based meats for 2021:

1. Plant-Based Meats for Immune Health

Health experts have been weighing in on the COVID-19 crisis, with some taking to social media to promote plant-based diets as a way to strengthen the immune system. The argument is that certain chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes—which increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19—are also linked to meat consumption. Expect this message to reach more consumers in the new year.

2. Cleaner Ingredient Labels

With more consumers considering the health impacts of the foods they’re eating, plant-based meat labels will come under closer scrutiny. Manufacturers will continue working toward 100% clean label ingredients, for example, removing binders like methylcellulose and modified starches, as well as artificial flavors and flavor enhancers like disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate.

spoons with seeds

3. New Plant Proteins

Interest is growing in new plant-based proteins that can be used in next-gen plant-based meats. This supports crop diversity for a more sustainable food supply, as well as nutrient diversity for a healthier diet. Canola, flaxseed, lupin, oat, mustard seed, and algae proteins are some emerging ingredients with potential in extruded plant-based meats. The use of novel proteins will be a strategy for new brands to differentiate their products. 

4. Home Delivery

Online grocery shopping has skyrocketed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak as consumers have sought to minimize their risk of exposure. Companies benefiting from this shift include plant-based meat companies like Very Good Butchers that offer a direct-to-consumer option. Consumers can order a variety pack with plant-based burgers, crumbles, sausage, and pepperoni or sign up for a subscription. Home delivered plant-based meal kits (like Purple Carrot’s) and prepared meals (like Veestro’s) also meet the needs of today’s consumers.

5. Plant-Based Seafood

The recent global expansion of Good Catch plant-based seafood products signals the time has come for plant-based seafood. Advances in protein ingredients and extrusion technology are responsible for realistic eating experiences that weren’t possible before. While this emerging segment is known for its plant-based flaky tuna, breaded fish fillets, fish cakes, and crab cakes, watch for more diversification in the new year with products like plant-based salmon, scallops, and shrimp.

two meatless meat cakes on plate topped with veggies

A Healthy and Sustainable New Year

With plant-based meats addressing so many consumer trends—environmental sustainability, taste adventure, and healthy eating—expect growth and innovation to remain strong in 2021. 

From plant-based meat systems to functional and nutritious plant-based proteins, flax, chia, quinoa and oat ingredients, our plant-based solutions portfolio provides high-quality solutions that give your products outstanding nutrition, functionality, and flavor. Collaborate with us to see how we can help create great tasting plant-based products your customers will enjoy. 

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