Alternative protein products need to be ‘TECH’ to succeed


By Food Futurist, Tony Hunter


Are the problems of ‘Beyond Meat’ and the wider plant-based/alternative protein sector in some countries due to the “considerable gap between the strong health credentials of our products and a broader colour narrative that is now afoot”, and that “this gap appears to have widened”? Well, that’s what Ethan Brown apparently told analysts at a meeting last month.

Simply trying to “educate” consumers and hiring third-party organisations to inform their consumers on the health benefits of their products as further proposed by Brown is highly unlikely to fix Beyond’s or the sector’s problems. That’s because it doesn’t address the core problem so many alternative protein products suffer from; poor taste. This was borne out yet again in a recent FMI report where taste was the most frequent barrier to trial and repeat consumption of plant-based alternative food and beverages. This also begs the question of whether meat mimics are the answer to increasing alternative protein consumption?

Maybe products need to be good in their own right, without reference to animal based products.

Whatever the case the key to success is simple, just not necessarily easy! Products need to be TECH (tasty, easy to use, cheap to buy and healthy for the consumer and the planet). Get all of those right and you have a successful product.

Food companies have always known that to be successful they need to first offer consumers a product that tastes good at a competitive price. Health comes after that whether we like it or not and not even in second place.
We need two changes to accelerate the alternative protein sector. Firstly, a step change in the taste of alternative protein products to stimulate repeat and trial purchase.

Secondly, a new generation of products that are not simply animal meat mimics, but just taste good in their own right. Simply telling people to ignore taste and focus on health is misguided at best. A TECH based product simply will not have broad enough appeal.

Tony Hunter is a global futurist, food scientist, speaker and foresight strategy consultant. He consults and speaks globally, using his distinctive combination of scientific qualifications, business experience and detailed understanding of exponential food technologies to deliver a unique perspective on the future of food.