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What Do Consumers Want From Plant-Based Protein Ingredients?

We’re in a time when research on plant-based ingredients for alternative proteins is booming. Never before has there been so much innovation in the plant-based…



We’re in a time when research on plant-based ingredients for alternative proteins is booming. Never before has there been so much innovation in the plant-based protein space, with novel ingredients being used to produce products that could not have been imagined 50 years ago (like jackfruit and mycoprotein).

ProVeg International has recently published an article on its New Food Hub, which deep dives into the alternative protein ingredients market. The article seeks to understand the booming industry, aiming to better equip alternative protein producers with the knowledge they need to boost product sales.

So, what do consumers actually want from plant-based protein ingredients? Let’s find out.

Premium taste and texture

More than anything, flexitarian consumers want plant-based protein ingredients that can contribute to products that are as tasty as animal-protein products, with a similarly desirable texture and functionality. 

Image: Unsplash/LikeMeat

Indeed, taste is the most important factor affecting consumers making a plant-based purchase. Joe Formanek, Director of Ingredient Innovation at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition, explains: “Consumers want a product that handles the same as its animal-based model, which means [for example] that a plant-based burger should generate the same aromas and flavours, and develop the same cooked appearance and feel as the original. This is where food science comes into play, and where an understanding of the ingredients that deliver these qualities is essential.”

Jonathan Sliney, Regulatory & Nutrition Manager at Heura, adds: “We consider things like protein content, quality, texture, taste, and appearance, among others, when screening proteins. Some have very strong off-taste or dark colours and these would be discarded to make plant-based chicken or fish, which have a very neutral base. For plant-based beef, however, we can afford to have a more coloured starting point, as the final product is red. Choosing the correct protein is key to achieving the desired texture and fibrosity, which is why it varies from product to product.”

Healthy ingredients 

Taste isn’t everything. Consumers also want healthy plant-based proteins. In fact, a recent survey of European consumers found that health is the second most important factor to shoppers buying plant-based foods. The respondents also stated that it is important to them that the plant-based food products they choose are fresh (third position in the ranking), have no additives or artificial ingredients (fourth position in the ranking), and are cheap (fifth position in the ranking). Ethical aspects, such as the environment and animal welfare, took sixth and seventh place.

The health and additives aspects clearly pertain to the topic of clean labels, which is increasingly of concern to consumers, especially when it comes to plant-based proteins, which often have a fairly long ingredient list.

Read the full article to gain more insights on the plant-based protein sector, and get in touch with ProVeg International at to learn more about how to produce sell-out products.

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