The plant-based revolution
The plant-based trend has been enjoying spectacular momentum in recent years. Concerns about animal welfare and the environment, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have fuelled huge demand for plant-based foods and beverages, leading to an expected CAGR of 12% until 2027. Although vegans and vegetarians are a prime audience for this market, growth is being powered by an increasing number of non-vegan consumers looking to reduce their consumption of animal products.
Focusing on the move towards limiting animal-derived products in the diet rather than total elimination is key to success in the plant-based nutrition category. While non-vegans will find 100% plant-based products appealing, there is also a good opportunity to highlight plant-based ingredients on the label of non-vegan foods. In fact, 71% of consumers worldwide say they consider plant-based claims to be appealing. Retailers have embraced this trend: plant-based products are easier to access, many grocery stores have removed the plant-based aisle and now place the plant-based alternative directly next to the original on the shelf, giving buyers choice and availability.
The health halo of plant-based products
According to a 2020 consumer survey, the top four reasons for considering plant-based products are health, variety, sustainability, and taste. Health was named by 53% of respondents, making it the clear leader. A survey conducted in 2021, meanwhile, found that more than four in ten shoppers see plant-based options as healthier, even when two products have the same nutrition facts label.
As a result, an increasing number of manufacturers are promoting their plant-based credentials, especially in the beverage sector. Plant-based beverages offer a health halo that makes them an ideal platform for functional ingredients to meet the current high demand for health benefits in plant-based beverages.
Plant-based opportunities for functional drinks
Beverages are perfectly placed to capitalise on the growing plant-based opportunity, due to their vast potential across a range of different formats. In particular, many plant-based ingredients, such as natural caffeine, can make the perfect addition to energy drinks with a natural positioning. Fruit juices, smoothies, shots, and coconut waters are also excellent plant-based delivery formats for botanical energy ingredients and additional vitamins and functional ingredients. Demand for natural, plant-based sports nutrition products is rising too, with 57% of consumers considering plant protein to be more appealing than whey protein. Plant based protein sources suitable for beverages include soy, pea, oats, lentils, flax, and sunflower seeds.
Milk alternatives have played a key role in the growth of plant-based beverages market, supported by recent advances in processing technology enabling excellent texture and taste. Dairy products are a popular format to deliver health benefits, offering an opportunity to develop plant-based dairy analogues with similar nutritional functionality. For example, European consumers agree that drinking yogurts with live bacteria can help to support the immune system and half of them say that plant-based yogurts are healthier than dairy ones. Dairy alternatives enriched with probiotics could tap into this opportunity.
Powerful plant-based ingredients
Functional botanicals and superfoods are natural and authentic plant-based ingredients that can significantly boost beverages’ appeal. The most exciting ingredients in this space include ginseng, turmeric, green tea, green coffee, yerba mate, guarana, rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha and berry extracts (such as acerola, acai, and Goji berries).
Prinova has selected branded ingredients that can help plant-based beverage brands stay ahead of consumer trends: Aquamin™ (marine multi-mineral complex product range), Carb10® (low-glycaemic pea starch carbohydrate with prebiotic properties), goMCT® (healthy fats providing energy to the brain and body, also helping with weight management and gut health), goFAT® (low-carbohydrate fat powders to improve taste, texture, and functions of shakes, coffees, keto products and functional foods), and Clean Cream® (vegan cream powder that adds a rich taste and creamy texture to protein and meal replacement shakes, protein bars, baking mixes, soups, and sauces).
Big opportunities for micronutrients
Because vegans may struggle to consume some micronutrients in sufficient quantities, vitamins and minerals are an important aspect of many plant-based drinks, whether providing a replacement for the micronutrients present in animal products or delivering additional functional benefits. Some of the most popular micronutrients for plant-based beverages include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, folic acid and pantothenic acid.
In order to meet vegans’ nutritional needs, we have developed new nutrient rich premixes for dairy replacement products. Our premix for plant-based yoghurt and milk provides a range of nutrients that vegans need and can be adapted to include additional functional ingredients, such as probiotics and calcium, as well as flavourings.
Prinova Europe: Your ideal partner for consumer appealing plant-based products
Prinova offers a wealth of knowledge and experience in the plant-based sector. We can provide vegan friendly versions of many of our ingredients, including amino acids, proteins, and hydrocolloids, in addition to our specialist premixes. As one of the world’s leading suppliers of botanical and superfood extracts, we offer a vast array of functional ingredients for different health claims. Leaning on our insight into the latest market and consumer trends, we can collaborate with you to create a unique concept that differentiates your brand. Contact us now and discover how we can help you create market-leading products.
* Please note that nutrition and health claims are regulated in many markets, so the specific wording needs to be reviewed on an individual product basis.
 www.prnewswire.com 'Global plant-based food market report 2020-2027' (2020)
 GlobalData 'Plant-based F&B claims have positive connotations for nearly three quarters of consumers globally' (2020)
 Innova Market Insights 'Powering up on plant protein' (2021)
 International Food Information Council '2021 Food and Health Survey' (2021)
 Mintel GNPD (2021)
 International Food Information Council 'Consumer Perspectives on Vitamins, Minerals and Food and Beverage
 FMCG Gurus (2021)
 Financial Times 'The battle for the future of milk' (2021)
 Mintel (2021)