Plant-based Proteins — On the Rise and Here to Stay

It’s no secret that plant-based innovation is here to stay. Now more than ever, plates are being filled with plant-based proteins that mimic the taste and texture of meat, neutral pulses that soak up sauces and seasonings, and seeds and grains that deliver quality, nutrition, and functionality to meals.

Manufacturers and processors continue to push the envelope on plant-based alternatives as they develop new red meat, poultry, and seafood analogs. Restaurants, retail, and CPGs keep experimenting with plant-based ingredients in raw, roasted, or powder format, giving consumers an even lower barrier to entry when it comes to meatless versions of familiar foods and snacks.

Why Plants are Poised to Take Over

From Fad to Favorite

The popularity of plant-based protein products is surging towards becoming an $85 billion market by 2030.1

Plants Aren’t Just for the Birds

As consumers in North America become more health conscious, their interest in plant-based foods also rises.

Stats showing that consumers are becoming more health-conscious, especially when it comes to eating meat.
  • 58% of US consumers are eating more plant protein because it’s healthier than eating meat. (Source: Griffith Foods Alternative Protein Report, Mintel 2022 Trends Report)
  • 74% of consumers in Mexico say the main reason to eat plant-based food is to improve their health. (Source: Griffith Foods Meat Substitutes Survey Mexico 2021)
  • 47% of consumers in Canada say the main reason they eat plant-based is that it’s better for their health. (Source: Mintel Report, Plant-based Food & Drink – Canada 2021)

Menus Gone Meatless

Big names in QSR are following Burger King’s lead after its success with the Impossible Whopper. Since its launch in 2019:

  • KFC has debuted its first plant-based chicken nugget with the help of Beyond Meat.
  • Subway permanently added its meatless meatball sub to menus around the world.
  • A Beyond Meat McPlant Burger has launched at McDonald’s in the US.
  • Hooters in Mexico are serving “WTF Cauliflower buffalo boneless” bites — seasoned cauliflower chunks that are battered, deep fried, and tossed with buffalo sauce.
Four year menu growth of "cauliflower wings" in the US is up 1098%

The main advantage for foodservice industry members is their unprecedented reach. Because of their tremendous scale, chains can roll out new concepts quickly, allowing consumers to trial alternative meats for just a fraction of retail costs — and already hot and ready. This reach provides an enormous opportunity to cater to a greater range of consumer segments (e.g., vegans, vegetarians, and other health-minded eaters).

69% of Canadian consumers say restaurants are a good place to try plant-based alternatives.

(Source: Mintel Report, Plant-based Food & Drink – Canada 2021)

Endless Opportunities

Consumers aren’t just looking for beef alternatives, and they aren’t just finding soy-based products on grocery shelves and menus anymore. The plant-based meat category in North America is experiencing disruption every day. Thanks to technological and R&D advancements that better mimic the real meat experience, consumers get options that are better for themselves and the planet.

A package of tenders sin pollo by Plant Squad, a company based in Mexico.

Plant Squad is a plant-based brand in Mexico with a variety of plant-based offerings using beans, peas, lentils, oats, and more.

Photo from Plant Squad

Pizza Nova's plant-based pepperoni.

The Canadian take-out pizza chain, Pizza Nova, serves up a whole line of pizzas using plant-based pepperoni. The “Campo plant pizza” features spinach, mushrooms, and a pea protein-based pepperoni alternative made with fresh whole food ingredients and spices.

Photo from Pizza Nova

Packages of Akua kelp jerky.

Akua makes sustainable foods using ocean-farmed kelp harvested from the Northeast coast of the US. Incorporating familiar flavors such as Maple BBQ and Hibachi Teriyaki helps consumers ease into these plant-based burgers, jerky, and pasta products.

Photo from Akua

Plant-based Seafood Making a Splash

Although it hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet (think Burger King’s Impossible™ Whopper®, and Beyond Meat in grocery stores), innovation for alternative seafood is on the horizon. The popularity of plant-based seafood has been steadily increasing since 2019 as consumers on social media enjoy testing and experimenting with plant-based seafood at home. CPG products like Gardein, Good Catch, and Sophie’s Kitchen make that possible.

“Plant-based seafood is to 2021 what plant-based burgers were to 2019. Expect to see more and more options in grocery stores and restaurants.”

— Elysabeth Alfano, CEO & CMO of VegTech Invest via Instagram

Mushroom Snack Attack

Mushrooms have gained popularity in food production thanks to their expansive application potential. Global mushroom and truffle production has reportedly grown 500% between 1980 and 2011.2 More and more CPG snack brands are using wholesome ingredients such as pulses and mushrooms as bases for plant-based snacks to provide consumers with a clean label and satiating options. According to a recent alternative protein survey, 62% of US plant-protein consumers would like to see more plant proteins with whole food ingredients.3

Mushrooms are one of the most preferred plant-based ingredients (along with lentils and nuts) among consumers in Mexico.

How Can You Join In?

Level-up Your Burgers

Backed by our proprietary ConSensUs Mapping process, we’ve developed a plant-based burger like you’ve never tasted before. Consumers can still enjoy the smoky aroma and firm texture of a grilled burger—without the beef. Our juicy, wheat-protein patty maintains a meaty flavor and pleasant bite.

Get Flavor that Doesn’t Fade

Griffith Foods has developed the industry’s only plant-based seasoning system of its kind. Enrobed Seasonings deliver great flavor, provide a consistent eating experience, protect volatile flavors, and decrease unnecessary waste.

Plant-based “Fried Chicken” Featuring Griffith Foods Simulated Chicken Seasoning & Binder Crispy Flour Coating System

Feed Them the Familiar

Make the leap to plant-based a little easier on consumers: Dishes such as smoked mushroom Bolognese, hearts of palm ceviche, and seitan-based Peking “duck” are familiar in flavor but reach new heights of creativity in their plant-based executions.

Griffith Foods’ Simulated Chicken Seasoning & Binder and Crispy Flour Coating System provides the familiar crisp and crunch consumers love in plant-based “fried chicken” recipes.

Let’s Create Better Together

We’re here to help inspire creations that keep your product portfolio on trend. Contact your Griffith Foods representative or reach out to our sales team to learn more about our ongoing research and innovative offerings.

3 Griffith Foods Alternative Protein Survey, Mintel Report