Plant-based foods: Consumer & Market Insights & Opportunities for NZ

There is a lot of concern around global food security as we observe the rapid rate at which the world’s population is increasing, urbanising, and getting wealthier.  In developed and developing markets, it is a given that most people have access to the internet, thus there is a huge upswing in the level of engagement around environmental issues, and as such a lot of attention is being directed towards our current methods of food production are whether they are moving towards their sustainability limits.

In New Zealand our current protein production for the local and export market, is very much focussed on animal-based sources of protein, namely dairy and meat.  In order for New Zealand to remain competitive in a future world where demand for protein far outstrips supply we need to focus beyond the preservation of our legacy animal-based protein sources, and look to ways of growing our future premium protein offerings.

No time is better than now, to take advantage of the consumer trends towards plant-based foods and ‘flexitarian’ diets.  There are significant opportunities for New Zealand to expand and develop plant based protein sources.

Research teams at Plant & Food Research (PFR) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have collaborated to generate market and consumer insights to help inform New Zealand industry about future opportunities. The result is four very topical insights reports around the subject of plant-based foods.

· ‘The Evolution of Plant Protein - Assessing the Consumer Response’, co-authored PFR and MPI, outlines why protein supply is coming under growing pressure globally. Two of our key export markets for protein, the US and China, are then investigated to gauge how diets and food production methods might evolve in reaction to diminished supply of traditional animal-based protein sources.

· ‘Protein: A Chinese Perspective’, authored by PFR, delivers and discusses quantitative results from an on-line consumer survey conducted in China. It provides insight into cultural traditions that influence protein consumption, explores the effect of increasing affluence in this market, and delves deeply into current eating habits and perceptions of different protein sources.

· ‘Opportunities in Plant-Based Foods - PROTEIN’, authored by PFR, explores what plant-based protein sources might play in the diversification of New Zealand production systems. Our team discuss how fundamental and applied science provides New Zealand with the capacity and expertise to be globally competitive in manufactured high-value plant protein foods.

· ‘The Impossible Burger - Consumer Insights’, authored by MPI, is a thorough analysis of the commercialisation of an alternative protein product. This report uses the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger patty that was created to replicate the taste, texture and smell of beef, as a case study to demonstrate the viability of meat replacement products.

The full content of each report is now accessible via this link to the MBIE Food & Beverage Information Project you have any questions, or have trouble downloading the documents, please contact me directly

Katie Browning