Mike Natale, Global Leader of Plant-based Protein, Ingredion, Yadu Dar, Director of Global Development, Ingredion and Jeremy Jones, Founder of SunDrip, discuss the highlights of the recent Ingredion State of the Plant-based Protein Event with Elysabeth Alfano It’s another great episode of The Plantbased Business Hour!
Specifically, they discuss,
- Consumer attitudes and motivations,
- Educational opportunities and messaging,
- Ingredient development and sector progression and
- Bright spots in the sector experiencing large growth.
Below is a highlight clip from our long-form conversation which includes a tour of one of their greenhouse ponds and a taste test of some of their products. Podcast here.
Elysabeth: So, where are we going from here? Yadu, in two sentences, what do the next five years look like and how should we pivot if indeed we need to pivot at all?
Yadu Dar: I think we need to return to growth by helping our customers with taste and affordability.
Elysabeth: Okay, that is succinct. I love that. Jeremy, if you could give us the same thing. Where are we going in the next five years, and do we need to make any pivots?
Jeremy Jones: Well, the short answer is I don’t know. I’ve been trying to have that answer for the past three years and I’ve been wrong, but I’ll tell you what I certainly feel. I don’t know if it will happen in the next five years, but I do think that the future is bright and sunny. I also would make sure that we don’t make the fallacy of trying to over-educate the consumer. I think the consumer is extremely smart and I think you’re making a mistake by over-educating.
I think Mike really had a good point of peeling back the layers of the onion and allowing people to make their own choices and have that nascent discovery. I do think that protein is the Trojan horse for plant-based foods. Not necessarily to replace the animal or the steak but I think protein as an additive to things is the Trojan horse and the very easy way in.
Elysabeth: Ooo, I like that a lot. Protein as an additive is the Trojan horse. Mike, you get the last word. Where are we going in the next five years and is there any pivot we need to make?
Michael Natale: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re always on a constant zig zag to progress, you know? It’s progress over perfection. At Ingredion we’ve seen a lot of trends in the ingredients space for many years. We are the largest producers of Stevia globally and you may remember Stevia probably about fifteen or twenty years ago really being a novel and very new ingredient. It was not really something that consumers knew very well. Stevia is now offered in almost every bakery and confectionery and selection on the dinner table when you go out to eat. So it’s become a main staple for the way that we experience food.
I would say that plant-based proteins for the way that we look at it will be very similar. It’s going to continue to zig and zag based off of innovation and based off of our customer’s capabilities. But, it will all revolve around the experience that we deliver to the consumer. Obviously, Jeremy is doing that every single day. He has great experience and knows what his consumer wants.
Five years is never enough time to get close enough to the consumer. It will take us the next fifteen years to really get a great space where we have some great products in regards to offerings. So, I think the future is bright, but it all revolves around consumer experience and innovation and that’s where we’ll play. So, thank you, Elysabeth, for having us.
Elysabeth Alfano is the CEO of VegTech Invest, the advisor to the VegTech Plant-based Innovation & Climate ETF, EATV. She is also the founder of Plant Powered Consulting and the Host of the Plantbased Business Hour.plant-based ingredion protein etf