The growth of the global plant-based market has shown no signs of slowing down in 2021, with every week bringing significant new developments for the sector.
From acquisitions to new product launches, FoodBev takes a look back at the year’s top trending plant-based stories, which highlight some of the key trends and innovations in the category.
Nestlé opens new plant-based food production site in Malaysia
In April, Nestlé inaugurated a new plant-based meal solution manufacturing facility in Malaysia, following an investment of MYR 150 million (approximately $36.3 million).
Located in Selangor, the facility was established to cater for the rising local demand for plant-based food, as well as to serve the export market. It joins the company’s plant-based food facility in Tianjin, China.
Supplying the foodservice and retail channels, the facility has the capacity to produce 8,000 tonnes of halal-certified plant-based food per year, including burgers, schnitzels, chargrilled pieces and mince.
New biodegradable chewing gum Nuud launches into UK retail
Earlier this year, a new plant-based, plastic-free and biodegradable chewing gum, Nuud, launched into Waitrose stores across the UK.
Instead of using plastic in the gum base, Nuud uses ‘sustainably’ harvested tree sap called Chicle, which it says helps the gum to biodegrade naturally like banana skin.
With the product, the brand is on a mission to rid the world of plastic gum, as well as to educate consumers about the amount of single-use plastic used in regular gum – which Nuud claims is ‘as much as a drinking straw in one piece’.
Britvic acquires UK plant-based drinks brand Plenish
As the market has boomed, the plant-based drinks category has attracted the support of investors in 2021, while other companies have been on the acquisition path.
This spring, Britvic expanded into plant-based nutrition with the acquisition of Plenish, a UK plant-based drinks business.
Founded in 2012, Plenish offers a range of plant-based milks – including almond, coconut, oat and cashew – cold-pressed juices and functional shots, as well as a series of cleanse programmes.
Nestlé debuts new pea-based milk alternative brand
Also investing in plant-based drinks, this year Nestlé made its largest foray into the category in Europe with the introduction of Wunda, a new pea-based milk alternative.
The drink is made from yellow peas sourced in France and Belgium and Nestlé says it is high in fibre, low in sugar and fat, enriched with calcium and a source of vitamins D, B2 and B12.
According to Nestlé, the neutral taste and high protein content of the pea-based beverage mean it is very versatile, and it can be enjoyed over cereal, in hot beverages, in cooking or drunk straight.
Yeo’s and Oatly announce official opening of oat milk facility
Oat continues to be one of the most popular plant-based milk options, and this July saw Swedish brand Oatly and Asian food and beverage company, Yeo Hiap Seng Limited (Yeo’s), open a joint oat milk plant in Singapore.
The facility is located at Yeo’s Senoko Way site and marked Oatly’s only production venture in Asia before the company opened a manufacturing facility in China a few months later.
David Zhang, Asia president of Oatly, said: “This new facility will help drive Oatly’s expansion into new and existing markets in Asia and support us to drive the shift from dairy to oat milk for the benefit of people and planet”.
Nestlé releases plant-based Milo drink in Asia
This April, Nestlé announced the launch of a plant-based, ready-to-drink (RTD) version of its Milo cocoa beverage in Asia, along with two plant-based coffee RTDs.
The Milo Dairy Free recipe replaces the milk from the original formula with almond and soy, but the other two core ingredients – malt and cocoa – remain the same.
McDonald’s and Beyond Meat launch plant-based burger in the UK
Meat alternatives are big business globally, with foodservice operators, established brands and new market entrants alike all looking to secure a juicy slice of the plant-based pie. Among them, McDonald’s launched a UK trial for a plant-based burger this year.
The McPlant has been created using a meatless patty co-developed with Beyond Meat, as well as vegan cheese that is said to taste just like McDonald’s cheese slices and is based on pea protein.
The burger features: a vegan sesame bun, mustard, ketchup, vegan sandwich sauce, fresh onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and the vegan patty and cheese.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto launches plant-based coffee pods
The plant-based category isn’t confined to food and beverage products. At the beginning of the year, Nescafé Dolce Gusto released a new collection of Flat White plant-based coffee pods.
Credited by The Vegan Society, the plant-based pods come in almond and coconut flavours.
Happi releases new oat milk white chocolate range
Most of us are no stranger to a bit of over-indulgence during the festive period, with chocolate often figuring prominently. This year has seen a proliferation of plant-based options, including Happi Free From’s two new white chocolate varieties.
Happi plain white and white raspberry come in 40g and 80g bars. The brand’s portfolio is made with gluten-free oat milk and rice syrup, as well as sunflower lecithin to ensure it is completely allergen free.
The new vegan white chocolate bars join the brand’s portfolio of chocolate buttons and dairy-free milk chocolate bars, including plain, cacao nib crunch, salted caramel and orange varieties.
McCain Foods announces new plant-based brand
Coming in at number ten is another new product launch. This year saw McCain Foods announce a new plant-based range that includes dips, spreads, sauces and cheeses made from root vegetables.
The Simple Root brand uses technology to transform potatoes and other root vegetables into a creamy taste and texture – without the use of artificial flavours or allergens.
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