Challenges highlighted at Plant Based World Expo


By Donna Berry, Meat+Poultry



NEW YORK — This year’s Plant Based World Expo, held Sept. 8-9 in New York, showcased the challenges facing manufacturers.


Many of the conversations during several presentations focused on the simple fact that taste reigns when it comes to plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, and that over processing, complicated labels, a lack of adequate nutrition — particularly around quality protein content — and not enough variety are all deterrents to purchase.


“Plant based,” as defined by market research firm SPINS, Chicago, refers to vegan alternatives to animal-based products. And while there were many such concepts on the exhibition floor at this year’s show, there were also numerous inherently plant-based products benefiting from the movement, everything from nut butters to vegetable oils to grain-based snacks.


Missing were many of the big-name plant-based meat and dairy players, as well as the more than a dozen processors that showcased plant-based versions of chicken nuggets at the 2021 expo. This observation was noted by speakers such as Meghan Barton, director of frozen for Kroger, Cincinnati, who said, “Duplication among brands is something to be mindful of.”


Rather than duplicates, the plant-based consumer, which currently is mostly flexitarians who also eat animal products, is looking for variety.


Kate Holmstrom, director-business acceleration consulting for 84.51, Kroger’s research business unit, said consumers don’t want to be bored with more plant-based options of the same product. She also said Kroger’s research showed shoppers who have increased their purchase of plant-based foods have not eliminated animal-based products. It’s mostly incremental growth for the stores...