Global Plant-Based Products Gain Traction in America

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) identified “Plant-Based Power” as one of five product trends spotted at the sold-out Private Label Trade Show that took place Nov. 12 to 14.

Among the new options highlighted by the PLMA were ethnic meals and convenient handheld snacks such as porkless carnitas, alternative chicken fries, fish sticks, and mozzarella bites.

There was no shortage of global cuisine at the show, with 60 countries represented among the exhibitors. Other plant-based products such as meat and seafood analogues, oat milk and oat milk cheeses, and falafel and tofu were plentiful at the event.

Here’s a look at some of the plant-based products highlighted at the Chicago-area event:

Ethnic ready meals

As Americans who increasingly seek out global cuisine seek to economize, ethnic plant-based ready meals offer a convenient at-home option.

A3K Imports LLC developed its INDIALICIOUS line of authentic Indian vegan ready meals made with plant-based soya chaap & Basmati rice to be microwaveable in 2 minutes. Soya chaap are chewy chunks made of soybeans and wheat flour. The meatless varieties include & Basmati rice in Chicken Vindaloo, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Rogan Josh, and Butter Chicken.

Jayone Foods, Inc. served JAYONE Plant Based Vegan Korean Bulgogi in original and spicy varieties as a vegan alternative to the Korean beef dish. Danper’s line of vegan Ready to Eat Tamales from Peruvian Fields included Artichoke, Quinoa, and Corn varieties.

Alt-protein innovation

Numerous exhibitors offered meat and seafood analogues at the show. Atlantic Natural Foods, Before the Butcher, Future Food Group (FFG), Planetarians, PlantPlus Foods, and Schouten USA Inc were among the companies providing alt-protein items..

Plant-based meat alternatives producers at the show cited price, product quality, taste, nutrition, and long ingredient lists as some of the barriers to increased sales of plant-based meat analogues. Nevertheless

Hansie Conradie, sales executive at Future Food Group (FFG), the maker of PLNT meat and fish alternatives including Burgers and Fish Sticks, told The Food Institute:

“The flexitarian is looking for the next best thing in the plant-based category: an affordable, healthy and tasty plant-based meal they can enjoy.”

Max Barnthouse, co-founder of Planetarians, highlighted the company’s price parity and sustainability credentials. Planetarians makes Savory Strips from upcycled brewers spent yeast Barnthouse told FI: “Across the segments that we have recently engaged, K-12, college and university, healthcare, and specifically private label retail, the same dynamic asks are coming up: shorter ingredient labels with natural components, better nutrition, and prices on par with animal proteins seem to be the general trends.”

Schouten USA Inc. produces a wide range of vegan products including Fishless Sticks, Crispy Chickenless Nuggets, Classic Falafel, and Chickpea Tempeh. Matt Prescott, the company’s VP of operations, said: “Today’s consumer expectations for plant-based foods have not been met – various factors influence this experience: product quality, nutrition, and price in comparison to conventional protein options.

“With this, more consumers are gravitating towards vegetable forward products that have their own identity, which in turn have a cleaner label than more processed, meat-mimicking items.”

Vegetable-forward products

A number of exhibitors offered vegetable-forward products that don’t seek to mimic the taste and texture of animal proteins. For example, Franklin Farms displayed its Portabella Veggie Burger, Baked Falafel Balls, and Tofu Bites. Cindy Wong, VP of sales at Franklin Farms, said:

“Consumers are turning to more plant-based choices for reasons including health, sustainability, and the need for great tasting products without sacrificing flavor.”

Phoenix Bean, LLC’s Tofu Salads such as its Grandma Yang’s Spicy Stir Fry Tofu Salad offer a ready-to-eat way for consumers to eat the company’s tofu made from sprouted soybeans.

Many vegans are familiar with using young Jackfruit to make barbecue pulled “pork” sandwiches but have probably not heard about the other canned Vegan Meat Products that CBL Natural Foods from Sri Lanka offers. The company sells Banana Blossom (with a flaky, delicate texture and mild taste as a substitute for seafood), Lasia Stalk (with a hearty texture and rich flavor as an alternative to red meat), and Ash Plantain (a variety of plantain that can mimic the appearance and flavor of eggs).

Virginia Lee is a food & beverages trendspotter and market researcher who advises consumer packaged goods companies on innovation and market entry opportunities. She has a global, cross-cultural perspective from working at Euromonitor International, Innova Market Insights, and Brightfield Group. Connect with Virginia on Instagram, TikTok, and X at @VirginiaALee