How has the plant- based market evolved over the past 10 to 15 years?
“The plant-based market has seen tremendous growth over the last decade. In fact, it has been nearly 15 years since I was introduced to canola protein, a nutritious and sustainably produced plant protein that DSM will begin supplying in commercial quantities at the end of the year. I made it my personal career mission to bring high-quality plant proteins to market all those years ago, and never looked back! It's been quite a journey and the market has transformed in that time.”
What have been the key drivers behind these changes?
“The growth in plant-based alternatives has been driven in large part by consumer interest in health and wellness, as well as sustainability. Compared to 15 years ago, more people are interested in adding plant protein to their diets, rather than identifying as strictly vegan or vegetarian. For many people, plant protein has become almost synonymous with healthy eating, and today around 30% of consumers in major markets identify as flexitarian.”
How would you characterise the current state of play in plant-based – where are we seeing most demand, and what new innovations are appearing?
“Flexitarians in particular are increasingly conscious about the nutritional quality of plant-based alternatives. We see that the industry is responding, and that in addition to continually improving taste and texture, producers are focusing on developing products with excellent nutritional quality that contain high-quality protein. This goes hand-in-hand with other reformulation and new product development objectives, such as developing products with shorter ingredient lists, reducing levels of salt, sugar, and fat, and developing products that are free from major allergens.”
How has the development of DSM’s plant proteins portfolio evolved to help manufacturers overcome certain challenges, and meet demands of consumers?
“Today, the DSM Vertis™ plant protein portfolio features plant proteins from canola, fava, pea, and chickpea which form the foundation of plant-based products that offer complete proteins and are free from major allergens such as soy, gluten, and dairy.
“It all started with DSM’s innovation, Vertis™ CanolaPRO®, which is a highly functional, complete protein made from canola which contains all the essential amino acids. In 2021, DSM acquired Vestkorn, a leading European producer of plant proteins from peas, fava beans, and chickpeas. DSM’s plant proteins, together with a broad range of taste, texture, and health solutions, make us a valuable partner for food and beverage companies seeking to differentiate their products in this growing market.”
Which product sectors can benefit from this portfolio of proteins?
“The growing awareness around gut health has driven the ‘free from’ trend and the development of gluten-free and lactose-free products. We see this becoming increasingly important in plant-based products such as meat and fish alternatives, dairy alternatives, and sports and performance nutrition. It's not an easy task to replace plant proteins which are allergens, such as soy and wheat gluten, from a nutrition and functionality perspective. DSM’s plant protein portfolio, together with our full range of taste, texture, and health solutions and our food application expertise, help producers to tackle the challenges.”
What’s ahead – how do you see the plant-based market evolving in the next, say, five years?
“In addition to improving the nutrition and health profile of plant-based products, we see an evolution to more healthy variety for consumers. The plant-based burger has been in the spotlight for several years, but as the plant-based trend matures we are seeing more demand for products which are perceived less as an occasional treat, and more as part of a healthy routine, such as fish alternatives, or chicken alternatives you can add to a salad. We also expect to see more healthy plant-based options in the snacking aisle. There is a bright future ahead for plant proteins!”
|Samah Garringer, business unit director, proteins of the future at DSM Food and Beverage|