REPORT Novel technologies in Plant-Based

North American consumers are inclined to accept novel food processing technologies which can be shown to make products healthier, tastier and cheaper. Sustainability and convenience benefits are less strong incentives. However, transparency is a key issue and the majority agree that companies should be more open about the technologies they use. 

As seen in other markets, younger North American consumers are more likely to reduce or reject animal-based food and beverages than their older counterparts. They are also more curious and experimental around technology. This points to a growing market in the long term, but there is still some work to do to make meat and dairy alternatives a staple. The Innova Meat, Dairy & Alternative Proteins Survey 2022 revealed that while more North Americans are discovering alternatives, the share that consume them daily is decreasing. 

When it comes to new technologies, the most important food-related benefits that consumers see, are easier food preparation and more enjoyable cooking. But they are also interested in new technologies for meat alternatives that enhance taste. Interest is greater for plant-based meat where animal fat is mimicked, with much less excitement around 3D-printed meat, for example. 

Future development is likely to focus on healthier and tastier alternatives as these tap into the main demands of the wider consumer base in the US and Canada. Environmental benefits are more convincing as a reason to try novel food processing technologies among vegans, flexitarians and those with a university degree. Expansion in this area is likely to be largely driven by consumers in those specific demographics. 

With dry blends and mixes for meat substitutes the most familiar alternative products to North Americans, there is room for innovation and expansion in this category. But the current financial situation and supply chain disruptions mean consumers are increasingly looking for more affordable options and this is no different within the space of meat and dairy alternatives. Novel innovations may avoid rejection and skepticism if they offer cheaper solutions. 

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