Feb 09, 2022

ADM Reveals 7 Emerging Alternative Protein Trends

Company releases 2022 Alternative Protein Outlook report

ADM has released its alternative protein outlook.

The protein outlook is a deeper dive into one of the seven top consumer trends identified by the company for 2022.

The findings, based on research from the company’s proprietary Outside VoiceSM consumer insights platform, reveal what’s next for protein alternatives, which are expected to climb to a staggering $125 billion by 2030.

“In the last 12 months, the number of plant-based meat, cheese and dairy products available to consumers has more than doubled," says Leticia Goncalves, president of Global Foods for ADM, who oversees the company’s focus on high-growth business.

"Innovation driven by future-forward brands like Air Protein, Future Meat Technologies, Nature’s Fynd, in partnership with larger industry players such as ADM, are transforming the way we will feed a growing global population sustainably," Goncalves continues.

"Products aimed at meeting the heightened demand for health-forward solutions that can deliver on evolving consumer taste and texture expectations will continue to come to market over the next decade.”

New products will be heavily influenced by the seven emerging trends highlighted below, including the continued development of new protein sources, the introduction of varying product formats and a redoubled commitment to sustainable practices, from ingredient sourcing to packaging and distribution.

1. Novel protein sources, from cell-based, to fungi and air. Imagine eating a burger produced from elements found in the air, or a slice of cheese made from fungi with origins in a national park. Brands are exploring a wide range of innovative protein sources to supplement the industry’s continued focus on pea and soy. Cell-based solutions made from cultivated animal cells are on their way to becoming increasingly mainstream as industry leaders such as Future Meat Technologies are developing more efficient processes for manufacturing meat products at scale. Beyond cell-based options, a number of new and existing players in the space are exploring novel protein sources coming from air particles, volcanic ash, seaweed, insects, and more.

2. Fermentation-as-a-service. There’s been growing interest in microbial fermentation as a novel method for developing alternative protein products. Global players, like ADM, that have expansive fermentation capabilities are exploring new ways to serve food, beverage and health and wellness brands that are seeking support with downstream processing, lab services and consulting, among other components essential to food-grade fermentation.

3. Next-generation, plant-based, whole-muscle solutions. Whole-muscle, plant-based solutions, such as chicken breast alternatives, are becoming increasingly available to consumers in markets all over the world. These solutions will continue to evolve as brands seek out novel ways to reproduce the texturization of animal-based whole-muscle cuts, from T-bone steaks to shellfish. It won’t be long before families are carving whole-muscle plant-based turkeys over the holidays.

4. Innovation and transparency from seed to fork. As concerns about climate change continue to grow, consumers are increasingly demanding greater sustainability in existing food systems. This has led many to seek out brands and products that can provide the plant-based solutions they crave in a way that’s environmentally and ethically sound. Seed-to-fork initiatives, as an example, leverage cutting-edge technology to improve seed breeding, and lessen the cost, time and environmental impact associated with creating consumer-ready protein sources. Active across the entire value chain, ADM is uniquely equipped to drive innovation from seed to fork.

5. Moving toward price parity of cultivated meat products. Companies like Future Meat Technologies are helping power a move toward more price parity of cell-based solutions with more traditional alternatives. In December, the company announced that it is now producing cultivated chicken breast for just $7.70 per pound, down from approximately $18 per pound six months prior. These types of products will be more accessible to consumers in the near future.

6. Kid-friendly product formats. Plant-based chicken nuggets are just the beginning. New products featuring kid-friendly flavors, colors and formats (think fun, familiar and easy to eat and drink) are becoming a focus for brands looking to appeal to flexitarian parents and kids across varying life stages and ages, from yogurt to pizza and mac-and-cheese. In fact, ADM’s Outside VoiceSM research indicates that the largest cohort of flexitarian consumers are parents who are looking for mealtime solutions that delight and nourish all family members.

7. Plant-based versions of traditional, authentic cuisines. To meet the growing global demand for traditional dishes, brands are exploring solutions that can provide the regional specificity and appeal that today’s consumers desire, from plant-based shawarma to schnitzel and shrimp dumplings. Through new products featuring an assortment of globalized flavors, textures and product formats, brands are aiming to deliver an array of tasty, satiating comfort food analogues.

Each of these emerging trends will have an impact on the plant-based marketplace in the years ahead.

With more than 60 innovation centers based around the world, ADM, a leading global food solution provider, is well positioned to support brands with the leadership, insights, technology and science-backed solutions that they need to capitalize on these opportunities, creating a more sustainable, healthier and secure food supply chain for years to come.

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