Walnut chorizo among trending plant protein applications | 2021-09-27

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Walnut chorizo tacos and mushroom-based jerky are among the emerging trends experts at Tastewise are keeping an eye on.

Sausage accounts for 34% of plant-based meat consumption, making it the most replicated form of meat, according to Tastewise’s latest alternative proteins report. Soy and pea are among the primary ingredients for plant-based sausage products and are showing up in a growing number of offerings from brands such as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Nestle USA’s Sweet Earth and more.

As the category becomes increasingly saturated with soy- and pea-based products, consumers are seeking more creative protein sources, said Alon Chen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tastewise. The artificial intelligence-powered food and beverage insights platform found walnut is emerging as a key ingredient, with consumer interest in walnut-based sausage growing 72% in the past three months.

“Sausage takes on a new form with a protein-packed walnut base,” Mr. Chen said. “Walnut chorizo is an up-and-coming ingredient for sausage replication and offers high-protein content in tasty formats like tacos.”

With 30% of all walnut-based sausage consumption being in taco form and 82% of walnut sausage being consumed as a chorizo product, walnut chorizo tacos in particular are an emerging trend application to watch, he said.  Other emerging ingredients include seitan, edamame and white bean.

Opportunities exist for continued innovation in mainstream meat categories beyond sausage, such as ground meat, patties and chicken. Products that deliver on key benefits including high protein and high fiber or low cholesterol and low saturated fat increasingly will win in those competitive categories, Mr. Chen said.  

“Products that can emphasize both personal and planetary health will stand out in the crowded field,” he said. “Interest in sustainable plant-based meat products is up 58% year-over-year, while health needs like protein already account for 7% of consumer conversations on the category. Striking a balance of both will be important for new category players. Health and sustainability are increasingly linked.”

Other, less saturated meat categories offer whitespace opportunities. Interest in plant-based lamb grew 212% in the past year, according to Tastewise. Interest in plant-based salami increased 159%, and interest in plant-based charcuterie grew 148%.

“Demand for plant-based options extends from the classic burger and chicken options to more niche categories, like deli meats, jerkies and roasts,” Mr. Chen said. “Our analysis shows that those three categories are currently underrepresented in the market.”

Consumer interest in mushroom-based jerky in particular is gaining momentum, he added.

“Vegetable jerky is showing interesting signals of a trend to watch,” Mr. Chen said. “Keep a particular eye on mushroom jerky, which already accounts for 59% of consumer conversations about vegetable jerky on the whole.”

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