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How to Innovate Foods for Discerning Flexitarians

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In 2023, here’s how to hit the bullseye of providing plant-based nourishment while delivering full flavor for successful innovations.

There’s been a tremendous but slow shift in how consumers approach food -- going from a mindset of “eat to live” to “eat to thrive.” This encompasses not only eating for health sustenance but also knowing that doing so is helping the planet to thrive as well. Consumers are more proactive in seeking foods that fit snugly -- and deliciously -- into their healthy lifestyles.

As 2023 approaches, wellness-minded individuals are primed to view their food choices in a holistic manner -- the ingredients should be natural and nutritive, contributing to health. Foods that are appealing to health-minded (nutrition-forward) consumers are plant-based foods and beverages.

Consumers perceive plant-based products to be healthier and better for them, which is a beacon for flexitarians. Vegans and flexitarians alike, however, will become loyal to nutrient-dense, plant-based foods that are savory, indulgent, exotic, and provide a near blissful experience with every bite.

There are spirited growth opportunities across the widening plant-based sector, with more alternative meat, cheese and dairy products becoming available to consumers who are actively seeking them.  Specifically, alternative meat and dairy sales alone are expected to grow by 14% per year and reach $125 billion in 2030 (FMI Global Plant-based Market Forecast Report, 2021)​.

Pioneering the Plant-Based Pantry

A supplier-partner with nearly eight decades of leading food development progress will help take your plant-based products to the head of the table.

ADM is supporting this market growth through deep expertise and legacy in plant protein solutions, as well as our expansive plant protein portfolio and key acquisitions, investments and partnerships that bring new capabilities and innovation to consumers around the globe. For over 75 years, ADM provides food brands with the fruits of the latest technology, processing techniques and ingredients.

In fact, they recently onboarded new solutions to enhance its plant-based offerings.

MaxFlex™

For applications spanning baked goods, snacks and beverages, and specialized nutrition products the MaxFlex™ systems improve ideal functionality and high quality, protein-advantaged solutions. MaxFlex™ blends of pea with rice or pea with wheat proteins deliver higher PDCAAS scores (0.89-0.95) than these protein sources can offer individually, while providing on-trend blends of protein-diverse, plant-based ingredients.

Hydrocolloid Solutions 100 & 200

Also newly launched is Hydrocolloid Solutions 100 and 200 which elevate mouthfeel and preferred overall sensory experience in a variety of dairy and dairy alternative applications. ADM’s hydrocolloid solutions enhance the eating and drinking experience with added body and thickness for creamy plant-based yogurts, frozen treats and dairy beverages. These texture solutions can also help formulators with clean-label product positioning by removing less desirable ingredients like gelatin, monoglycerides and diglycerides from labels.

Alternative Proteins

Backed by a long legacy of innovating in alternative proteins, ADM continues to expand its portfolio that includes 30 diverse plant protein sources derived from an array of natural foods -- pea, beans and pulses, ancient grains, wheat, nuts and seeds. Additionally, its pantry of flavors, colors and complementary ingredients help brands produce alternative and plant-forward offerings with exceptional sensory experiences and nutrition.

Alternative proteins represent one of ADM’s core growth platforms and the company has invested strategically to sustain its position as a premier global provider in this segment, continuing to expand its global capacities and capabilities.

For instance, ADM recently announced that it will invest approximately $300 million to significantly expand its Decatur, Illinois, alternative protein production. This targeted investment will significantly increase its production of soy protein concentrate production, nearly doubling extrusion capacity. Additionally, ADM is expanding its Decatur campus with a new Protein Innovation Center to power partnership, innovation and speed.

This significant investment joins ADM’s recently expanded capabilities such as its Enderlin pea protein production (USA), Campo Grande soy complex and PlantPlus Foods joint ventures (Brazil), multiple partnerships with startups and other innovative companies and last year’s Sojaprotein addition.

Pioneering the Meat Frontier

ADM is finding new ways to make plant-based proteins more appealing to the meat-eating demographic via improved mouthfeel of muscle-like offerings (eg, steak varieties), and free of ingredients consumers today are looking to avoid, like gelatin.

Specifically, ADM sees the whole muscle-like offerings, such as steaks, chops and shellfish, as the next frontier for plant-based innovations, and this requires overcoming challenges in structure and texture. The company is breaking through the parameters in the protein arena with its planned launch of whole muscle-like plant-based solutions tailored for high moisture extrusion (HME). As an industry leader in extrusion expertise with solutions for both HME and low-moisture extrusion (LME), ADM will help its partner brands to claim new prime real estate in the supermarket.

ADM’s exceptional plant-based capabilities and solutions are the keystone to the alternative protein bridge that links vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and plant-based curious consumers to delicious, innovative foods that satisfy their desire for great taste and better-for-you options.

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References:

1 Bryant. “Plant-Based Animal Product Alternatives Are Healthier and More Environmentally Sustainable than Animal Products.” Future Foods​, 2022; 100174 DOI: 10.1016/j.fufo.2022.100174

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