Brands today are rallying toward a more sustainable healthy F&B industry
By Victoria Walling
The fight that once revolved around convincing more to join the healthy community is now all about helping revolutionize the healthy food and beverage industry across the globe.
It’s about moving to a more sustainable way of living. It’s raising consciousness on the beneficial transformation of the way food and beverages are produced and consumed. It’s about transforming the way people live and eat.
Here are three movements that have taken the healthy F&B by storm and have helped push the needle to transform the industry one trend at a time.
Growth of Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets have long been prominent across the world since 2004. The hype about vegetarianism and veganism is still going strong as consumers look to support healthier lifestyles post-pandemic. The popularity of plant-based diets has catapulted as more people have become conscious of the health benefits of supporting a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits.
Research suggests that a plant-based diet helps lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, inflammatory diseases, and even type 2 diabetes. It also offers all the necessary vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fats for better health.
According to the Plant-Based Foods Poised for Explosive Growth report from the Bloomberg Group, global retail sales of plant-based foods are on track to be worth as much as USD 162 billion by 2030. This massive expansion of the plant-based food market is changing how people consume healthy food and how restaurants plan their menus.
The demand for plant-based alternatives is pushing restaurant owners to make changes on the products and dishes they serve. They take this opportunity to make this trend a permanent part of their offerings by introducing exclusive plant-based menu items.
Industry giants like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Oatly are driving an increase in plant-based food options as they partner with various restaurants and major chains across the world. There are also brands such as Nestle and Kellogg who have looked into beefing up their distribution of plant-based products.
As more consumers in different communities gain access to plant-based products and become more familiarized on its benefits and impact, a change in their habits as customers can be anticipated in the next few years.
The Expansion of Animal-Free Dairy Milk
Animal-free dairy milk has been touted by many as the ‘milk of the future.’ These days, consumers have access to an abundance of dairy alternatives. In groceries, coffee shops, and in restaurants, they are able to choose from various selections including oat, almond, rice, soy, pistachio, macadamia, cashew, and even walnut milk.
It’s not surprising that there is a clamor over animal-free dairy milk. This type of milk is free of any animal byproduct. It’s made from whey proteins produced by microflora (fungus) engineered through a process called precision fermentation to churn out the same proteins found in milk from a cow.
A prominent player in this field is Perfect Day, the company that created the world’s first precision fermented dairy protein. It was established in 2014 by two vegans looking for a way to produce tastier animal-free dairy products. This company has created dairy that is identical to traditional milk. It’s lactose-free, cholesterol-free, real dairy that’s 100% animal-free, and tastes, scoops, and spreads the same as traditional dairy.
Perfect Day has pioneered the transformation of how companies create animal-free dairy milk. They have also influenced the way people prefer no-compromise dairy milk with all of its benefits. Many companies have utilized Perfect Day’s whey protein:
Betterland Foods with its Betterland Milk is a lactose-free milk without the discomfort and bloating from traditional dairy milk.
Strive with its Strive FREEMILK that whips, foams, blends, cooks, and tastes just like regular milk.
Tomorrow Farms with their newly launched Bored Cow that comes in various flavors
The Urgent Company’s Brave Robot Ice Cream and Modern Day Cream Cheese that both use Perfect Day’s protein
Bigger companies such as Unilever is also staking their claim in this movement. They are planning to launch a cow-free dairy ice cream from its own precision fermentation process. Outside the United States, Israel company Imagindairy has also started looking at ways to use bioengineered yeast cells to produce milk proteins for their dairy products.
These are very great steps taken in scientific and technological advancements on milk production that advocate for and induce better sustainability for the industry.
The Introduction of 'Clean Meat'
Consumers are continuously adopting new ways of healthy eating habits. One of which is looking to reduce meat consumption because of health reasons or sustainability concerns.
Some brands across the world have slowly started their healthy F&B revolution in terms of creating lab-grown meat, which is a cell-based, cultured or cultivated meat made using animal cells.
One of the first ones to ever venture into this is Eat Just, which has been granted a license by the Singapore Food Agency for the manufacturing of lab-grown meat at the end of 2020. Their cultured chicken nuggets went on sale in Singapore under its Good Meat brand. To date, Singapore is currently the only country where lab-grown cuts of meat can legally be sold to consumers.
In Israel, Believer Meats, SuperMeat, and Aleph Farms are among those who have started seeking environmentally safe and animal-friendly alternatives to producing meat. SuperMeat focuses on creating cultured chicken meat they offer to consumers through The Chicken, an innovative and sustainable test chicken that dubs itself as the world’s first farm-to-fork facility developing cultivated chicken meat directly from chicken cells. Believer Meats is currently in the process and is poised to introduce something in the next few months. The first steak cultured from cells was produced in December 2018 by Aleph Farms. They grow beef stakes from non-genetically engineered cells isolated from a living cow without slaughtering the animal.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has announced in Q4 of 2022 that Upside Foods’ lab-grown chicken meat is safe to eat. Upside Foods’ process is done by taking living cells from chickens and growing them in a controlled environment to make culture cuts of meat. While this decision is not yet an approval process for commercial production and consumption, Upside Foods is creating waves in the healthy F&B industry with this news.
There are other players in the field as well:
Stakeholder Foods in the US that announced in September 2022 their Omakase Beef Morsels, a first-of-its-kind highly marbled 3D-printed 100% cultured beef cut.
Mosa Meat in the Netherlands that produced the first lab beef burger in 2013
Meatable also in the Netherlands poised to pioneer the new natural and remove the need for repeated extraction of starter cells from animals by creating lines that multiply continuously.
In Q4 2022, scientists at the University of Lisbon, Portugal shared that they received funding from sustainable food NGO the Good Food Institue to make seabass fillets from 3D-printed cells. They plan to cultivate the meat from sea bass cells, creating a real fish fillet with the same look, taste and texture as conventionally produced sea bass
There’s an exciting potential and transformation in the way cultured meat is processed and created for a more sustainable tomorrow. Consumers’ tastes and preferences are changing.
A lot more healthy F&B companies are finding ways every day to not only introduce better healthy products but also find a more sustainable way of production and consumption. This poses a great opportunity for brands in the industry to consider sustainability and purpose as core drivers of their businesses. It’s not only focused on what they do as brands but on how they create impactful storytelling that can transform the lives of communities across the world.
While there are great things to look forward to in the healthy F&B industry, there’s still a lot of work to be done by brands who want to take the lead in creating sustainable products for consumers. Read about Why Being Healthy Is Not Enough for a deeper dive into how you can build a strong brand within the industry and set your products apart from the competition.