“There is a very traditional and strong food culture in Latin America and a desire to eat traditional products, many of which are meat-based,” said Chris Gregson, founder at vegetarian food consultancy Greenstalk. “So there is a real need to create products that exactly replicate the properties, texture flavor, and aroma of meat.
"It’s an opportunity from the perspective that Latin America is lagging behind other parts of the world in terms of penetration of plant-based foods into the market. […] However, there is a barrier to creating products that really replicate the meat products they are used to eating.”
Hector Parra, trends and innovation analyst at Innova Market Insights, said plant-based products were appearing in food service outlets in Latin America and were filtering down through to CPG and retail.
“You have vegan tacos and all these different varieties, not just with soy but also jackfruit. The most important thing is that consumers are willing to try something new. It could be trying something that is very traditional in Mexico but now you are trying it with new ingredients, new flavors, plant ingredients, and meat substitutes. It’s really evolving.”
Soy or pea?
According to Eugenio de la Mora, head of R&D at Mexican supplier Niuco, it’s not easy to replicate and replace meat in a hamburger but texturized soy protein comes closest to matching the properties.
“Soy has good advantages over other plant-based products, mainly price but also specific nutrients such as isoflavones for women and the high level of protein.”
Frank Truong, general manager at Cosucra, a Belgian supplier of pea-based ingredients, Latin American consumers know soy well and are looking for other ingredients.
“A few things to consider in Latin America primarily, soy has been used a lot […] but now consumers are looking for allergen-free protein sources from vegetable sources that have improvements on sustainability.”
Watch the video to find out more.