In the US, the sale of plant-based cheeses and meats is an all-American and steadily growing market trend
Technology is improving the taste and appearance of plant-based foods
Motif Foodworks is using a technique that could change the shopping experience of American consumers of alternative proteins
In the eyes of American consumers, plant-based foods are a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option than animal products. And as if that weren't enough, the taste, texture and appearance of many of these products are changing to increase their popularity in the US market.
The goal of food businesses in the US is to be able to create plant-based foods that are as similar as possible to their counterparts, given the optimistic forecast for growth in the global plant-based meat market (5.6 billion in 2020, 14.9 billion by 2027, source Research and Markets). In this regard, Motif will soon be distributing a product very similar to a beef steak with more authentic fat textures, but also with a better release of flavor, texture, taste and moisture retention.
And interest in sustainable alternatives could increase further if plant-based cheeses were to start having the same textures as dairy cheeses: in order to push public opinion in this direction and bridge the gap between the two categories, the American company is working exclusively with a protein called prolamin to create a cheese that stretches and melts like animal-derived cheese.
The future of the food industry in America is being driven by the aspirations and consumption trends of America’s Millennials, who are pioneers of the semi-vegetarian diet
Motif Foodworks does not aspire to replace all meat products, but rather to create a defining ingredient that makes an important impact, even on a low level. The goal is to spur American consumers (some of whom are already willing to do so) to enjoy eating vegan or vegetarian products, and so exclude animal products without complaining so much.
Food companies operating in the US must work on storytelling to move from niche to mainstream
Companies in the US are facing technical hurdles that must be overcome in order to produce alternative proteins on a large scale. In addition, it is critical that they leverage storytelling techniques if they want their products to become real commodities in the eyes of American consumers.
Some brands in America are doing this, and getting it right. The original story of Impossible Foods described it as a way to take part in a utopian, mission impossible - achieving the taste and satisfaction of eating meat while doing your part to save the planet. Beyond Meat is self-narrated as the "future of protein" through a story that heralds a soft revolution initiated by the bold choices of ordinary people.
To start a plant-based meat business in America, it's best to target the early majority, not the trendsetter consumers
These brands have made their way in the US food market, but most plant-based meat offerings in the US are still too focused on their few vegetable-fan users.
In order to capture the US market, plant protein companies in America should look more to what is known as the early majority: these are the American consumers who invest in products deemed innovative for the longest time. They include flexitarian users, who are looking for new options and more open to changing their eating habits.
In short, the emerging brands destined for distribution in the US must develop narratives tailored to the values of a broader, more promising audience: this means adopting an inclusive, confidence-inspiring message that will convince flexitarians to choose plant-based meats.
To put it simply, just because you can produce plant-based meats in the US doesn't mean they're all automatically destined for success. Like Impossible and Beyond Meat, two brands that have found clever narratives capable of driving the consumer choices of Americans, food brands need to deliver the right message to the right consumers.
Shelf space for plant-based products such as meats or plant-based cheeses is set to grow rapidly in America, which offers an unmissable opportunity to those who dream of expanding their business in the US.