The ingredients giant acknowledged that, for the moment, interest in the plant-based ‘movement’ is still gathering momentum as consumers look towards a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle that limits if not eliminates meat from the diet.
“Individuals choosing to become vegetarian are growing in number,” said Guido Venbroek, business manager for ADM's WILD flavours and specialty ingredients business unit.
“Even meat companies are looking into meat alternatives to cater to the vegetarian sector. The interest from our customers is coming from meat manufacturers.”
“Meat companies are starting to understand that in the future it will get increasingly difficult to sustain our current way of living. Retailers are now increasing their shelf space to stock more vegetarian products."
Entering the natural ingredients sector
ADM, who completed a €2.2bn acquisition of Swiss-German natural ingredient company Wild Flavours back in 2014, is now well-positioned to offer its range of meat analogs.
Shortlisted for a Fi Europe Innovation Award, its HIsolate soy protein range is billed as an organic solution that also allows for a clean label positioning.
The range features plant-based proteins produced via proprietary expeller press technology, a method that requires minimal processing, retaining the nutrients that are naturally present in soya beans.
HIsolate contains up to 73% protein, making it suitable for increasing the protein content of foods such as bars, vegetarian meat analogue products, cereals and snacks.
Also at FiE are ADM’s natural and organic options with whole-food ingredients. According to Roland Snel, senior technical manager at ADM specialty ingredients Europe, pulses may be a way for consumers to receive the best of both worlds.
“Consumers tend to accept reformulation when it is improving nutritional profile as this is the category that is already seeing high protein and high fibre-type products,” he said.
“We feel very positive about the future of pulse-based ingredients. Here at FiE, we’re not only showcasing a black bean burger but also an ice cream made from navy beans.
“Using these ingredients in protein bars as a replacement in bakery items is beneficial as they are naturally high in protein and fibres.
“ADM’s VegiFull bean range allows manufacturers to use them without having to use pre-cooking, pre-boiling and soaking processes. The beans only have to be hydrated and they can immediately be used in the application.
Europe is currently the most dynamic market for using pulses according to Mintel. In 2012, 54% (the highest for all global regions) of European retail launches named beans, lentils and peas in the product description. In 2016, the figure reached 62%.
The Noa range uses quinoa as a base for its lentil and kidney bean spreads. French firm Germline also make available a lentil-based 'caviar' with 44% sprouted grains.
Pulses are also the preferred choice for gluten-free foods such as Pedon’s high protein pasta made from red lentils, green peas or chickpeas.
A price to pay?
All this comes at a cost both in taste and monetary terms. Or does it?
“Vegetarianism doesn’t always mean premium products,” said Venbroek. “There’s also the economical options with “hybrid” or “intermediate” products readily available.
Snel added: “Food that is healthy is great, but nobody wants to pay a taste price on that. So when you think about formulating healthy foods it’s not about looking at one component alone, it’s looking holistically at the whole menu. It starts with a delicious tasting product.
“That’s the ultimate goal when formulating in any given direction whether it’s for health or for economic reasons.“
Alternative proteins are just one area that we will be putting under the microscope at Food Protein Vision in Amsterdam next March. The conference, powered by FoodNavigator, will examine the key topics impacting protein manufacturers - from delivering innovation and sustainability for tomorrow to tapping in to key growth markets, channels and categories today. Click here to find out more about unlocking the business opportunities in protein.