Plant-based foods are demanding more and more space on shelves. Consumer trends continue to shift toward meat and dairy free alternatives, and more products are popping up daily. PETA recently published an article calling out their favorite veggie products, and it led us to take notice of some recurring trends that are being seen in the space.
Savory, crunchy foods like popcorn and potato chips are the most sought after snacks. But, less conventional ingredients are coming to the forefront. Boasting more health benefits than conventional corn, wheat or potato snacks, consumers are reaching for delectable offerings like Vegan Rob’s Moringa Puffs, and Bohana Puffed Water Lily Seeds.
Though there’s been a huge expansion in meat jerkies featuring meats beyond beef, there are some interesting options that stand up as solid plant based alternatives to the hearty snack. Texture is key, so Pan’s Mushroom Jerky imitates the chewy quality of jerky with mushrooms. Akua’s kelp jerky helps satisfy the savory craving for jerky and is a remarkably more sustainable option. Sakara offers a slow baked watermelon jerky that sweeter option.
When considering a plant-based diet, finding stand-ins for traditionally animal derived products like butter and milk can make things difficult. And over the years, soy has lost a lot of its lustre. Aquafaba (which is essentially leftover chickpea liquid) has been showing up as a dairy stand in, most recently as a base for Fora Foods vegan butter. And while we have seen plenty of plant based yogurts, many lack the probiotics that traditional yogurt offers – but Coconut Cult retains that quality, in a completely dairy free way. And, as the milk-alternative craze expands, a new base ingredient is making a splash: oats.
Additional health benefits are a selling point for plant-based products. Wild Brine has a sriracha condiment with probiotics, an tasty way to support gut health without a supplement. And the question of how to get enough protein in a plant-based diet is a constant question, so there have been a slew of high protein meat alternatives debuting recently, like Dr. Praeger’s new product line. Protein powder is conventionally made with whey, a dairy protein. There’s also been a surge in plant proteins, derived from peas, rice and other plants, from companies like Naked Nutrition and Bob’s Red Mill.
It’s a disappointment to forgo traditionally non-vegan foods like mac ‘n cheese, but more animal byproduct free foods are holding up to the taste test. Many are touted as a healthier alternative, and are gluten free, like these Wat U See chickpea breadcrumbs. Kite Hill mimics creamy dairy in their mushroom ricotta ravioli. And for a mix of comfort and convenience, Sweet Earth has an extensive line of indulgent yet healthy frozen foods.
As the plant-based market continues to explode, big companies can’t help but take notice and follow suit. Meat giant Tyson has invested in Beyond Meat in the past, but has taken it a step further by announcing the launch of a plant-based protein line called Green Street. Conagra brand Healthy Choice has rolled out a line of plant based protein bowls in addition to its traditionally meat based meals. As consumers dietary preferences shift to include less animal products, we will continue to see even more unconventional and exciting plant-based products in stores.