According to a research published by the Plant Based Foods Association, customers continue to be dissatisfied with the flavor and consistency of vegan cheese. What are some possible solutions to this issue?
According to a new survey issued by the trade association Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and the data analytics business 84.51, seventy-three percent of consumers demand better vegan cheese.
In order to evaluate how retailers might change their merchandising tactics to enhance sales of plant-based products, the report targeted the top fifty percent of the most engaged plant-based shoppers from Kroger's database of sixty million household customers. Research includes polling customers on their positive and negative experiences with products derived from plants.
Consumers frequently identify issues with taste, flavor, and the quality of the ingredients as important pain factors. To begin, the findings indicated that customers are still dissatisfied with the flavor and consistency of vegan cheese, citing that it has a gritty consistency and a taste that is reminiscent of plastic or something unnatural. Seventy-three percent of people who took the survey wished there was a superior plant-based cheese that could melt nicely, taste similar to dairy cheese, and not have a gritty consistency.
“Consumers' discontent with plant-based cheese is something the plant-based industry is extremely familiar with,” Linette Kwon, PBFA Data and Consumer Insights Analyst, tells VegNews. However, we should keep in mind that the plant-based cheese market is still very young.
Kwon makes the argument that technological advancement is well on its way to satisfying this need from customers. She states that “every year, we see advancements in plant-based cheese,” including new brands, products, and techniques. “Every year,” she says, “we see advancements in plant-based cheese.” This year, a number of businesses are experimenting with different fermentation processes in the hope of producing a plant-based cheese that is more authentic.
Kwon writes that businesses such as New Culture are focused on developing novel fermentation techniques in order to create casein from plant sources. According to Kwon, “as of right now, casein is only found in animals,” and it's a vital component for giving dairy cheese the stretchy, melty feel that consumers want to see even in plant-based cheese. “As of right now, casein is only found in animals,” Kwon explains. It is possible that once this method is perfected, it will be a step forward in the development of cheese made from plants.
In a similar vein, Daiya is harnessing innovations in fermentation to improve the sensory and taste experience of its cheeses. Also, an up-and-coming firm from South Korea called Armored Fresh manufactures vegan cheese using fermentation and includes probiotics from kimchi into their product.
“Armored Fresh plant-based cheese comes in bite-sized chunks, which is unusual and could be interesting to consumers who are looking for cheese snacks,” Kwon explains further. “This could be tempting to consumers who are looking for cheese snacks.”
Customers demand nutritious food based on plant sources.
The lack of nutritious plant-based options for pre-made foods was another barrier that consumers mentioned in the study as being a problem. In addition, customers believe that preparing meals based on plants takes more time, so one potential solution could be to increase the amount of innovation in the field of ready-to-eat meals.
Kwon mentions companies like BeanVIVO and Upton's Naturals as examples of those that meet this demand. While BeanVIVO offers ready-to-eat healthy meals made from organic beans, Upton's Naturals offers convenient products that are made from simple ingredients. Both companies are based in San Francisco.
According to her, “as a result, these businesses cater not only to the consumers' desire for more plant-based options for pre-made foods but also to other consumer needs such as limiting processed ingredient content and preserving nutritional value.”
The health benefits of plant-based products were shown to be the aspect that customers value the most in relation to plant-based goods. According to Kwon, “due to the rise of the obesity epidemic, health has become a large area of interest for a lot of people in the United States.” People in the United States are looking for ways to live healthier lifestyles, one component of which is making healthier dietary choices, given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country.
“Plant-based meals are often lower in saturated fat and cholesterol levels, and have greater amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals,” she explains. “This is because plant-based foods get their nutrition mostly from plants.” As a result, “while Americans continue to consume plant-based products in the hopes of achieving a healthy heart, improving health can also invariably improve their overall quality of life,” we can say that “while Americans continue to consume plant-based products in the hopes of achieving a healthy heart.”
Should we have a separate section in the supermarket for vegan meat?
In addition, the survey found that consumers believe that it is difficult to locate plant-based goods in stores, with the exception of plant-based milk products. The paper argues that the solution is to position plant-based foods alongside animal-based meals rather than placing them separately in their own aisle in order to improve awareness; this is something that beyond meat does.
According to Kwon, retailers have to “meet shoppers where they are” in order to be successful. In point of fact, the Plant-Based Food Association collaborated with Kroger to study the performance of plant-based meat in the same section of the store as meat derived from animals. What are the results? The entire sales of plant-based meat climbed by 23 percent when compared to control retailers, which is above and beyond the average growth rates.
“This made it evident that retailing plant-based meats next to animal-based is the greatest place,” Kwon points out. “This made it clear that next to animal-based meats is the ideal location.” “This is the location where buyers anticipate seeing plant-based meat, and it is essential to keep in mind that shoppers want to see more options than just one or two varieties or brands of plant-based meat. Research is being conducted by the industry to gain a better understanding of the shift away from meals derived from animals toward foods derived from plants in order to make more shelf space available for the latter.
In light of the obstacles, what lies ahead for foods derived from plants? According to Kwon, “considering that health, sustainability, and taste are the primary drivers to plant-based foods,” once the taste and texture of plant-based products have been perfected, they could eventually reach a place where they can exist as their own separate category. “Plant-based products of the future would then remain faithful to their plant-forward makeup, having limited processed ingredients and abundant natural ingredients, thereby making them healthier, more flavorful, and more accessible to consumers of all backgrounds.”