Health and sustainability have become top priorities for consumers in recent years, driven by the pandemic and the worsening state of climate change. As a result, plant-based ingredients and foods are on the rise, with the market growing by 27% to reach $7 billion in 2020. Without a doubt, plant-based diets are no longer a passing trend but a lifestyle that’s here to stay.
Given this change in consumer preference, businesses are now jumping on the bandwagon. Some have begun incorporating plant based ingredients into their menus, while others focus solely on providing plant-based meals. Whatever the case, it’s more important than ever to shift to these ingredients to appeal to your customers. To help you out, read on to learn more about the implications of making such a shift.
What Are Plant-Based Foods and Ingredients?
As the term suggests, plant-based foods are foods that come from plant sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Plant-based meat alternatives have also grown in popularity as these aim to mimic the taste of meat products without animal-derived ingredients. Some common plant based meat ingredients include proteins like soy, tofu, peas, and mushrooms.
Overall, plant-based food has come a long way since it first came into the picture. The category continues to grow, with manufacturers exploring more creative alternatives, such as plant based sausage ingredients, plant based chorizo ingredients, plant based burger ingredients, and others.
Benefits of Plant-Based Foods
So, what’s driving the demand for plant-based food? The answer boils down to their many benefits, which include the following:
Incorporating plant-based food into your diet can be good for your health, given that they’re high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and contain more nutrients than processed meats. Some well-known health benefits include lower levels of bad cholesterol, reduced inflammation, and an improved gut biome. Additionally, studies show that eating more plant-based food can reduce the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Another top benefit and reason for the change in people’s dietary preferences is sustainability. Consuming plant-based food allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact since it uses fewer natural resources.
For context, the Good Food Institute estimated that plant-based meat uses 47-99% less land and 72-99% less water than animal meat. On top of that, it releases 30-90% less greenhouse gas since it doesn’t go through many stages like production, processing, and decomposition.
Finally, contrary to most assumptions, eating plant-based food actually helps you save money on your groceries. The misconception stems from the fact that most commercialized plant-based food, like alternative meats, are more expensive than their regular counterparts. But if you go back to the basics, protein-rich plant-based ingredients like lentils, beans, or tofu are much cheaper than conventional meat or fish.
Impact of Shifting to Plant-Based Ingredients in Your Business
Now that it’s clear why consumers are gravitating towards plant-based foods, it’ll naturally be attractive for them if you start using plant-based ingredients in your business. But you might be wondering about how things might change if you do this. To shed more light on the topic, read more about the impact of shifting to plant-based ingredients.
Cost is probably the biggest question for food businesses considering moving into the plant-based category since this may affect your pricing and bottom line. So, do plant-based foods cost more?
As explained in one of the benefits above, plant-based ingredients aren’t necessarily more expensive. Some may be priced at a premium, but others are at par or even cheaper than animal proteins. Additionally, consumers nowadays are willing to spend more on plant-based foods, given their commitment to improving their health and protecting the environment.
Taste and Quality
Next, does plant-based food affect taste and quality? Admittedly, even though many plant-based alternatives mimic the taste of animal products, they aren’t exact replicas. To this day, food businesses continue experimenting with different ingredients to find the right mix.
That said, this isn’t to say that plant-based food doesn’t taste good—just that they don’t taste exactly the same. So if you’re concerned about quality, shifting to plant-based ingredients won’t necessarily degrade your product’s quality. However, you’ll likely need to re-assess your product range and test new flavor combinations to adjust to the change.
Finding a Good Plant-based Food and Ingredient Supplier
If you want to use plant-based ingredients for your business, you first need to look for reliable plant-based food suppliers. This step is critical to ensure you source high-quality ingredients and deliver top quality to your customers. To help you with your search, here are some tips you can follow:
- Research Thoroughly
Start by doing your research to learn more about plant-based foods. Doing this will help you decide what specific ingredients you’ll need for your business. After, you can start researching reputable suppliers to shortlist potential candidates. Make sure you read up on each company to learn more about what they offer.
- Check the Origin
One of the most critical considerations in choosing your plant-based food supplier is to check the origin of their products. When it comes to sustainability, you should always verify if you’re sourcing your ingredients from an ethical provider. Otherwise, this may diminish your point of differentiation and affect the quality of your food.
- Ask about Packaging
Packaging is another important thing to think about when choosing suppliers. Ideally, your ingredients should be packed in a way that preserves their quality and maintains freshness.
Grow Your Business with Plant-based Ingredients from Sunleaf Foods
Given the many benefits of plant-based food and the growing consciousness, there’s no doubt that this category will grow in the coming years. So if you’re interested in making the shift, Sunleaf Foods is here to supply top-quality plant-based ingredients at affordable prices. Call us today at 949-899-6285 for more information on our products.