Plant-based burgers. Where next?

According to recently released research from Innova Market Insights, the average annual growth in global food and beverage launches with vegan and plant-based claims grew 21% and 58% respectively between 2015-2019. So where next for plant-based burgers?

Until recently, plant-based burgers rarely stemmed beyond vegetable or bean-based offerings. However, with the growing number of people enjoying a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diet, innovation in the plant-based burger sector has sky-rocketed.

Quorn had been well-established for a number of years of course but the first of the new wave was Gosh founded Ange Randrianasolo in 2012. And Linda McCartney was another early pioneer in the vegan space.

So it probably seems surprising that it wasn’t until 2015 when vegan products started to gain a significant increase in popularity. I remember attending the V Festival that year and new innovations were noticeably absent.

But fast-forward to 2017 and Oumph had launched followed by Beyond Meat the following year.

This heightened the demand for plant-based meat products that mimicked the real thing, and a trend emerged towards burgers that looked, cooked and even sizzled and bled just like real meat.

Then in January 2018, Tesco launched their Wicked brand range created in partnership with pioneering chefs and plant pushers, Derek and Chad Sarno of Wicked Healthy and Sainsbury’s followed with their own range later that year.

And when Vivera launched its faux steaks into Tesco in May it almost sold out with 40,000 packs purchased within the first week.

Then 2019 saw another major vegan launch with THIS joining the sector.

But it could almost have gone pear-shaped in 2020, when the mischievous EU legislators were at it again creating huge uncertainty around the continued use of the terms burgers and sausages to describe vegan variants. Fortunately the proposal was rejected in late October.

However, MEPs did vote to ban any indirect reference to dairy products for plant-based foods, which means descriptors like “yogurt-style” or “cream imitation” is now prohibited with terms such as ‘dairy’, ‘milk,’ ‘butter,’ ‘whey,’ ‘yogurt’, ‘cheese’ are exclusively reserved for dairy products.

Looking at this year, the Veganuary campaign saw a record-breaking number of sign-ups with many more consumers experimenting with or adopting a flexitarian diet, with the surge in plant-based product launches providing both variety and convenience.

Whilst we are only at the beginning of 2021, we have already witnessed further plant-based burger releases with Kerry Foods adding two new products to its Naked Glory line-up, which included No-Beef Strips and Chick’n Burgers.

These additions signal the plant-based burger market moving beyond beef burger alternatives towards a variety of offerings.

And notably, 2021 will see the debut of McDonald’s line of plant-based meat options called McPlant, including a plant-based patty. According to Reuters, this will put the plant-based meat movement at the forefront in America.

But moving away from faux meats, we’ve just seen another plant-based first with the launch vegan jam doughnut launch by Tesco.

The Jazzy Jam Doughnut is entirely vegan and was launched under their exclusive Wicked Kitchen brand across the UK and further marks the supermarket’s commitment to grow its plant-based food range.

And in 2020, demand for chilled plant-based foods at Tesco grew by more than 50 per cent helped through recent launches such as:

  • The UK’s first ever plant-based turkey crown
  • More main meal centrepiece dishes No Beef Wellington and a Butternut Squash and Mushroom Wreath

These Christmas specials followed on from Tesco’s commitment to become the first UK retailer to set a sales target for plant-based foods, pledging to increase sales of meat alternatives by 300 per cent within the next five years.

Talking about the ground-breaking doughnut, Tesco food developer Kaysha Keane said: “Plant-based food is the biggest culinary revolution of the 21stcentury and there have been some fantastic products coming out – but until now there has not been a dedicated, vegan jam doughnut.

“Jam doughnuts have been the single most popular sweet item in our In-store Bakeries for ages, so with the incredible growth of the vegan movement it was an obvious choice to create a plant-based version.”

Not exactly a burger, but interesting to see the breadth of products which are increasingly being offered as vegan alternatives to mainstream!

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