Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, May 2018

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK Plant-Based Ingredients MAY 2018 Whatever their reasoning, Millennials are a "driving force" in the growing popularity of plant-based foods, says Alison Rabschnuk, GFI's director of corporate engagement. Min- tel 5 found 30% of Millennials eat meat alterna- tives every day, with 50% choosing such op- tions a few times per week—underscoring a "f exitarian" streak that's yet another "growth center" for the category, Rabschnuk adds. Revolution in the Dairy Case "Given that Millennials account for 25% of the U.S. population and are estimated to spend over $1 trillion annually," Rabschnuk continues, "their tastes are already redef n- ing the marketplace and giving the food in- dustry a glimpse of the mainstream foods of tomorrow"—plant proteins included. Witness the revolution in the dairy case. Plant-based milks were a "miniscule" frac- tion of the total domestic dairy market until Dean Foods bought WhiteWave and moved its plant-based items to grocery dairy cases, GFI's Weston says. "Sales exploded, and now plant-based dairy is 10% of the U.S. dairy market and growing as fast as the overall dairy category is shrinking." And if more ma- ture protein sources like soy, almond, and coconut still dominate milk alternatives, they're making room for the pea protein, macadamia, pistachio, and even spent barely milks—thank you, beer industry—fast gain- ing share. All this has the smart money sizing up potential investment targets. "[Data f rm] Crunchbase 6 reported that $250 million in publicly disclosed investments in the 'alter- native protein' startup space has been made in the last two years," Rabschnuk says— which doesn't even account for privately made investments. "Some companies are taking stakes in plant-based innovators— Tyson and Cargill both invested in Beyond Meat—while others are buying plant-based companies outright," including not only Dean Foods' investment in WhiteWave, but Nestlé's purchase of Sweet Earth, Maple Leaf Foods' purchase of both Lightlife Foods and the Field Roast Grain Meat Co., and Pinnacle Foods' purchase of Gardein. Picking Winners "It's obvious that plant proteins have out- grown their initial niche status and be- come mainstream," observes Alison Raban, certif ed food scientist, BI Nutraceuticals (Dominguez Hills, CA). And she's noticed the shift not only in the types of products ap- pearing on shelves, but in "the trends in in- gredient requests we receive from a variety of manufacturers, big to small and mainstream to specialty." Among plant protein ingredients, soy "is still the highest ranked in terms of market size due to its use in many mainstream food items," according to Mintel data 7 , says Dani- elle Black, senior product manager, proteins, Glanbia Nutritionals (Fitchburg, WI). But in the nutritional foods category, pea protein wins. Taken together, the two sources' "high protein content and low-cost nature" makes them popular choices with manufacturers, Black says. But they're not alone. "While soy re- mains most prevalent as a base, along with wheat and pea or bean proteins, growing demand will summon new sources from nuts, seeds, and novel legumes," Weston wa- gers. Rice- and potato-based ingredients got the endorsement of a respective 81% and 80%, respectively, of consumers whom Min- tel 7 surveyed when asked which plant-based proteins they favor and given the option to choose all that apply. Black adds that this feedback is perhaps "because of the famil- iarity of side dishes and snacks with those ingredients." Even aquafaba, the water left after cooking faba beans, chickpeas, and other legumes, is drawing attention as a plant protein source, says Liz Specht, PhD, senior scientist at GFI. T us, she concludes, "Picking any one plant protein to highlight is tricky because there's so much potential in every category." Millennials are a "driving force" in the growing popularity of plant-based foods, says Alison Rabschnuk of T e Good Food Institute.

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