Research conducted in the UK, which reflected the global market, indicated 40% of consumers were turned off meat replacement and meat-free products because they saw them as bland and not enjoyable.
As a result, David Jago, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, said manufacturers should address this to achieve greater success, perhaps targeting enjoyment and health concerns together. “Focusing on health enrichment has helped to expand the category and get the attention of health-focused meat eaters.
“Having established a health-based proposition there is now an opportunity for the category to further explore enjoyment and indulgence to attract and entrench both meat eaters and vegetarians.”
Enjoyment and indulgence
Examples of brands that had brought more enjoyment and indulgence to the category in recent years were Linda McCartney Foods, with its dishes such as its Courgette, Black Olive and Mozzarella Cheese meal, said Mintel. Others included Quorn, with its Chef’s Selection Best of British Sausages line, and UK retail chain Marks and Spencer, which had launched meals such as its Melting Middle Mushroom Crispbakes.
Processors could draw inspiration from the North American and Asia Pacific markets for more instances of indulgent meat-free products, said Jago.
Demand for more convenient products was also a movement for meat substitute product manufacturers to seize on, particularly with regard to designing more microwaveable lines, said Jago.
Most popular claims
In terms of the most popular claims for meat-free foods in the past four years, there were many parallels with the market for eggs and egg products, said Jago.
Aside from the obvious claim ‘vegetarian’, which came top, the second most popular combination claim was ‘organic’, followed by ‘eco-friendly’; ‘no additives or preservatives’ and ‘no animal ingredients’, said Mintel. Animal welfare claims came next, then free-from genetic modification; ease of use; ‘high protein’ and finally ‘microwaveable’.
“When looking at the most frequently communicated product messages across the category, both the Europe and Asia Pacific markets place an emphasis on naturalness, purity and animal free claims,” added Jago.
“A key issue across the global market in terms of new product innovation is health fortification and enrichment. Manufacturers have been working to position ranges as healthier alternatives to meat.
“The 'plus' claims category, or products which are enriched with additional nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, added calcium and high protein, experienced a steady increase over the last few years.”
Examples of recent launches bearing some form of additional fortification claim included Creole Style Tofu Patty, from Nutrition and Nature in France, which highlights protein and fibre content, said Jago.
Low fat, high protein
Low fat, high protein claims have been used for recent Quorn launches Smoky Ham Style Slices in Ireland and Minced Meat Substitute in the Netherlands, according to Mintel.
FrieslandCampina’s Breaded Meat Free Fillets had been introduced into Germany flagging up its protein and calcium content and Nutrition & Santé had unveiled Soya Burgers in Belgium highlighting their calcium and magnesium content.
Other ingredients emphasised by meat free manufacturers included omega-3 fish oils, Vitamin B and iron, said Mintel.