Far from being a fad, interest in plant-based foods shows no sign of waning. Whether consumers are experimenting with a meat-free day once a week in the vanguard of the vegan trend or making small but incremental changes to their diet: plant-based has gone from niche to normal in recent years. So how can food manufacturers make their end products appeal to these consumers without compromising on sensory attributes, and create products that stand by their own merits? Foods and beverages today have to be designed with delicious taste as well as outstanding sensory attributes and allow the different ‘vegan consumers’ to make informed choices.
: Suzanne van den Eshof, global head of Marketing Food Industry at FrieslandCampina
Consumers love clear labelling
Consumers are keen to switch to plant-based foods for even once a week or swap their morning latte for an oat or soy alternative. Yet, despite their best intentions, they can still find food labels complex and difficult to decipher. Thus, transparent and easy-to-read labels are a big plus.
Manufacturers who can give their foods and beverages a quick-to-read and easily understandable vegan label make life easier for consumers in a hurry who want to quickly scan the supermarket shelves and easily spot a product that caters to their choices. For non-vegans feeding friends or family who has opted for plant-based, an easily identifiable logo is a huge bonus.
The growing interest in easy-to-understand labels is also clear from FrieslandCampina’s proprietary research into trends, published in an annual Trend Report. In seeking vegan alternatives, consumers also have a greater interest in where the foods come from, how they are processed, and their impact on the environment. Transparent information about ingredients is a big draw for conscientious consumers.
Satisfying sensory experience
While the days of a vegan diet consisting of a plate of lettuce leaves have long gone, there is still the need to innovate to deliver plant-based alternatives that offer a satisfying sensory experience.
For instance, achieving high aeration in a vegan mousse or a delicious taste in a cappuccino can be a particular challenge. Thus, FrieslandCampina’s R&D and Innovation Centres work with customers across all disciplines to bring them delightful products and offer better choices.
Baked to perfection
Delicious pastries tempt consumers with swirls of perfectly-formed cream. While the product has to look appetising and deliver the right texture, taste and creamy mouthfeel, manufacturers also look for its reliability, convenience, and performance.
Achieving both has been a challenge in plant-based whipping agents, which have previously struggled with an off-taste and poorer functionality. With vegan consumers not prepared to compromise on quality, development work was needed to create a whipping agent that would satisfy every level.
Kievit® Vana-Monte V98 vegan whipping agent is the result of FrieslandCampina’s research and innovation backed by extensive experience and expertise. For consumers, it delivers an elevated vegan sensory experience with a spotless clean mouthfeel, excellent flavour release, light aeration, and lasting good looks. For manufacturers, on the other hand, it promises outstanding performance with exceptional overrun and good acid stability. As a powder, this ingredient also has a long shelf life and is easy and relatively environmentally friendly to transport and can be used in a wide variety of applications.
Bakery and pastry manufacturers can now treat consumers to indulgent vegan products that score full marks for irresistible indulgence in applications such as Crème Chantilly, which appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.
Yummy vegan mousse
Kievit® Vana-Monte V98 is easy to use in bakery and pastry applications, fruit or chocolate mousse and ice cream, enabling indulgent treats that can be personalised with a variety of flavours and toppings.
FrieslandCampina’s vegan whipping agent was launched in response to growing interest in plant-based from mainstream consumers and to meet a global trend that is increasingly transferring to the bakery, ice cream and desserts sector.
The addition of Kievit® Vana-Monte V98 to FrieslandCampina’s portfolio promises a superior sensory experience, outstanding performance, and expands the options for vegans as well as flexitarians.
Besides Kievit® Vana-Monte V98, FrieslandCampina offers plenty of choices for manufacturers to offer a broader vegan portfolio, not only in whipping agents but also fat powders and toppings that can be used in savoury and ice cream.
Drink to that!
Another huge growth has also been seen in vegan and plant-based beverages, with oat, coconut, and almond alternatives now in the mainstream. Consumers want greater diversity and choice, but the unfamiliar and sometimes dominant taste of these plant-based solutions have sometimes been a deterrent. Moreover, much as they aspire to make changes in their diet, consumers are not prepared to sacrifice product quality. In research, even the most committed plant-based fans were reluctant to relinquish the taste of their morning cappuccino.
There are several challenges in developing (foaming) creamers for instant mixes, single-serve brew systems (SSBS) and vending machines: achieving consistent foam structure, a superior taste profile, an excellent balance of flavours and indulgent mouthfeel in a versatile vegan solution called for the best research and development capabilities. Although the diversity of choice was important to consumers, the overall sense of indulgence served as the key driver in decision-making.
The FrieslandCampina portfolio sets unprecedented standards in vegan tea, coffee, cappuccino, latte and hot chocolate applications. All products have a delicious taste. Besides delivering performance and organoleptic properties, these (foaming) creamers are free from HVO, non-GMO, gluten-free and do not contain silicon dioxide. The latest instant foaming creamer, Kievit® Vana-Cappa V845, is a winning combination of vegan and delicious, elevating plant-based beverages to a whole new level. By sharing its expertise, the company helps manufacturers to get their products to market in record time.
High-performing (foaming) creamers for hot and cold beverages
• Kievit® Vana-Cappa V840
• An all-round reliable solution for single serve systems and instant mixes
• Kievit® Vana-Cappa V785
• Excellent foam and unprecedented flavour with non-GMO soy. Perfect to create that perfect instant cappuccino
• Kievit® Vana-Cappa V780
• A perfect balance of delicate flavours for your instant beverages
• Kievit® Vana-Blanca 45A
• Protein-free, acid-stable and neutral flavour for your instant beverages
• Kievit® Vana-Cappa V845
• Superb foam and a harmony of flavours for instant mixes
The future of plant-based alternatives
Interest in plant-based alternatives shows no sign of slowing. As we learn to live with Covid-19 in the long term, consumers are keen to diversify their diet with products they perceive to be good for them and the planet, and plant-based is high on their agenda. Besides health concerns, consumers are increasingly focused on the source of their food and drinks and their impact on the environment. This is furthering interest in plant-based alternatives.
For many consumers, opting for plant-based products is about exploring new varieties rather than making a full commitment to adopting a vegan diet. With continued innovation, the choice of products on the shelves and menus has brought plant-based to the attention of a wider audience.
As plant-based options continue to expand due to more innovations in the industry, consumers will have access to wider dietary choices; a trend that will continue its upward trajectory.
With vegan and plant-based fixed firmly in consumers’ minds as a positive choice, manufacturers need to focus on developing more innovative and exciting ways to deliver delicious products that provide a full and satisfying gastronomic experience with no compromise on texture, flavour, or mouthfeel.
By working with partners on a peer-to-peer level, involving technical, marketing and development disciplines from an early stage, and through ongoing research into consumer preferences, FrieslandCampina helps bring end products to the market faster and satisfy consumer demand or delicious end products that taste good and do good.
This article was published in Food & Beverage Asia’s August/September 2021 issue.