Cartoon drawing of people shopping in a supermarket

November 11,2020

Meating the Challenge Part 3: Plant-Based Alternatives

As retail sales approach $100 billion in 2021 for meat, poultry, and plant-based alternatives, manufacturers and formulators are diving headfirst into this category, investigating what product developments could maximize this market opportunity.1 Fortunately, in a consumer driven marketplace, shoppers have specified key traits that catch their attention and influence their purchasing decisions. While the shopper experience is personal, many influential traits can be categorized into the health-conscious consumer, product premiumization, and plant-based alternatives. As previously discussed in Meating the Challenge Parts 1 and 2:

  • Health-Conscious Consumer: As health officials warn of potential diet-related health concerns, consumers are taking a larger role in their own health and well-being.
  • Product Premiumization: While shoppers are continuing to look for items that promote their health and well-being, they are also mindful to choose products with additional added values – such as premium products.
  • Plant-Based Alternatives: As product developers pursue innovations that fit today’s top trends, plant-based products have seen an increased interest from consumers across all applications.

Plant-Based Alternatives

Plant-based has become a common buzzword that has led to a growing trend in the food industry. While not a new concept, plant-based proteins have increasingly gained mainstream popularity, especially in recent years. When plant-based meat alternatives first hit the marketplace, these products aimed at providing consumers with alternative choices that “resembled” traditional meat options. However, without the knowledge and technology of today, options were limited. Now, plant-based meat alternatives have been able to “replace” traditional sources as formulators have developed products that mimic the look, taste, and feel of actual meat and have since found tremendous success.

Last year alone, the plant-based meat category reached $939 million in sales - an increase of 18% year over year!2 Interestingly though, a recent shopper survey reported consumers identifying as:

  • 86% meat-eaters
  • 10% flexitarians
  • 4% vegan/vegetarian.3


Even with a large majority of shoppers identifying as meat-eaters, the power is in the numbers. Whether a meat-eater, flexitarian, or vegan/vegetarian, plant-based alternative proteins are the fastest growing industry category today.4 As discussed in Meating the Challenge Part 1 – an overarching trend affecting the meat and poultry industry is that consumers are actively becoming more health conscious – moving away from foods that could be detrimental to their overall health (i.e. red meat, high sodium deli-meats, etc.). Perceived as a healthy alternative, plant-based meat products not only appeal to these health-driven consumers, but they have also gained popularity as more consumers “go green” and seek out sustainable options.5

While consumer preferences for plant-based protein consumption depends on a variety of reasons, product quality is the winning characteristic that keeps consumers enticed. Taste, look, and mouthfeel are key features, that if not met, will deter consumers from coming back and repurchasing products. Ultimately, taste is the consumer’s tipping point for repeat purchases.6

Kemin to the Rescue

As color, flavor, and microbial experts, we understand how different processing techniques and packaging affects proteins – even plant-based. From simple solutions to more complex blends, our technical team tailors’ solutions to manufacturer and formulator needs, keeping in mind specific brand objectives. Our robust product portfolio offers a range of cost-effective synthetic solutions to plant extracts, blends, and organic options. Utilizing our Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) team, we provide dedicated support throughout all phases of testing – allowing you to get to market faster and meet today’s consumer needs. Reach out to a sales representative today to learn more and get started.



1Packaged Facts. (2017). Meat & Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trend & Opportunities. Retrieved from:

2Watrous, M. (2020). On the plant protein horizon. Retrieved from:

3Food Marketing Institute. (2019). The Power of Meat: An In-Depth Look Through the Shoppers’ Eyes.

4,5, 6Food Ingredients First. (2020). Alternative proteins: Taste and texture reigns in creating plant-based products. Retrieved from: